Who’s an American Veteran?

People like to point out that Confederate veterans are American veterans (although they clearly are not United States veterans). After all, Congress says so (these same people distrust and dismiss what Congress says whenever it pleases them so I take this at face value).

So let me ask …

Are Native Americans who battled the United States for far longer than did the Confederate Native Americans? Should their descendants benefit in like manner?

Are those Americans who remained loyal to the Crown during the uprising of 1775-1783 American veterans? How about Benedict Arnold? He covered both bases.

Are those Americans who joined various terrorist groups (and apparently continue to do so) American veterans?

Whatever your answers, explain them. Surely you don’t want to rely upon the answer that simply because Congress says it, it’s true. You don’t always offer that answer, do you?

25 thoughts on “Who’s an American Veteran?

  1. lucien williams July 15, 2015 / 6:19 am

    You say that Confederate soldiers are not considered American veterans like any other. This is completely false. Congress passed a law over 50 years ago making them so.

    • Brooks D. Simpson July 15, 2015 / 9:10 am

      Try again. You can’t even comprehend what I said in the opening sentence, let alone render it correctly. Why is that?

    • Tony July 15, 2015 / 10:55 am

      Nope. Congress passed a spending bill in 1958 that made Confederate widows eligible for pension. There was nothing in that bill that assigned any type of status to the veterans.

      • lucien williams July 16, 2015 / 6:10 am

        read the law-

  2. Buck Buchanan July 15, 2015 / 7:48 am

    Well, as a United States Army Veteran (1976-2006…Private to Major, Infantry) and member of American Legion Post 284 Colonial Heights, Va, I disagree with the Congress’ ruling regarding Confederate veterans. While the ruling dealt with pensions I disagree…but didn’t get a vote.

    To me a United States Veteran swore the oath of allegience for enlistment or commissioning into the Armed Forces of the United States of America.


    I have seentoo many places where men died fighting those who took up arms against my country.

    • John Foskett July 15, 2015 / 1:41 pm

      Well said. Otherwise, those who fought in Tarleton’s Legion or in the Queen’s Rangers are as entitled to the “honor” as any of Glover’s boatmen or the guys who manned Washington’s 6-pounders at Trenton.

  3. Cotton Boll Conspiracy July 15, 2015 / 7:56 am

    I think you point out an important difference when you distinguish between a Confederate being recognized as an American veteran and a U.S. veteran. Obviously, those who took up arms for the Confederacy wished to no longer be a part of the United States, so the term “U.S. veteran” would be incorrect.

    I believe “American” is too often used by those in the United States as a term that applies solely to U.S. citizens. Theoretically, any citizen of a nation in North or South America can be called an American.

    That aside, I look at the fact that there was a general reconciliation following the war, shown by such events as the reunion of former soldiers from both armies at Manassas in 1911 and Gettysburg in 1913, as evidence that many Americans had accepted that not only was the war over but the nation was again a single entity, and that all were “Americans.”

    Were Confederates “American veterans?” I don’t know. They were Americans and they were veterans, but just because Congress says something doesn’t make it so.

    That said, I would give the nod to American Indians, but not British Loyalists or American terrorists. In the former case, they were here first and were trying to hold on to their lands; in the latter, they were either trying to prevent the creation of an independent America, or seeking its downfall. The Confederacy may have had many flaws, but it did not seek to overthrown the American government.

    • M.D. Blough July 15, 2015 / 2:21 pm

      Your distinctions don’t hold up. The Confederates certainly did try to overthrow the American government, just as much as the American rebels were attempting to overthrow the British government in what had been its North American colonies during the American Revolution. In both cases, the rebels were trying to overthrow the established government’s control over a portion of the lands it controlled. After the Treaty of Paris was signed and the UK recognized the US as an independent nation, George III still reigned over and the British Parliament still legislated for UK and the other territories, including Canada, that it controlled. If the southern rebels had prevailed in the War of the Rebellion, the USA would have continued to exist as would the Presidency, Congress, and its courts, but it would no longer have had control over the states that joined the Confederacy.

      It was the Rebels during the American Revolution who were trying to overthrow an established government, not the Loyalists. They acknowledged that which is why the Declaration of Independence was issued in the first place, to explain why they were taking such a radical step. Loyalists were every bit as much American in their birth and residence as those who supported the Revolution. The American Revolution was a civil war, every bit as much as the war that bears that name. Families were split including a family as prominent has the Franklins. Benjamin and his illegitimate but recognized son William Temple Franklin were very close but, when the war began, William, then Royal Governor of New Jersey, refused to turn on the government that had been given him so much. Ben never forgave him for siding with the people who put a price on his father’s head. Arnold was a different matter. Even though the British were willing to use him as needed, there was still a real distaste for an officer who’d switched sides like that in mid-war.

      • Cotton Boll Conspiracy July 15, 2015 / 3:47 pm

        My point was that the Confederate weren’t trying to seize control of the US government, as in the English Civil War or the Russian Civil War.

        • Michael Rodgers July 15, 2015 / 6:08 pm

          Because the Confederates didn’t want Maine, the Civil War wasn’t really a civil war. Got it.

          • Cotton Boll Conspiracy July 15, 2015 / 7:49 pm

            Did the Confederacy seek to overthrown the US government? No. That made it a different type of war than what is generally classified as a civil war. I’m not the sarcasm was warranted.

          • Michael Rodgers July 15, 2015 / 9:31 pm

            Confederates didn’t seek to ascend to the throne because the USA never had, didn’t then have, and doesn’t now have a throne. But the Confederacy did seek to overthrow state and federal government: Confederate ambassadors sought more states to join them, Confederate sympathizers tried to get the remaining USA government to surrender, Confederate armies fought outside Confederate borders, and a Confederate assassin killed Lincoln.

        • John Foskett July 16, 2015 / 7:29 am

          They did put in a lot of highly successful efforts at seizing United States military installations. And they were engaged in a rebellion which was made unlawful by the Constitution,

          • Cotton Boll Conspiracy July 16, 2015 / 9:25 am

            Americans in 1860-61 disagreed over the constitutionality of secession, so I don’t know that you can make the clear-cut statement that the Confederacy was “engaged in a rebellion which was made unlawful by the Constitution.”

    • agapeio July 15, 2015 / 2:55 pm

      so you are saying the American Indian was trying to overthrow the American govt…in their mind they were just resisting “terrorists”…and isn’t there an unalienable right to overthrow that government…now that being said…everyone in this country have originated from some other land.
      either willingly or otherwise, Tribes were here…They were the original Forefathers
      American and fought in any theatre / war = American veterans…period!

      • Cotton Boll Conspiracy July 15, 2015 / 3:50 pm

        I don’t think the American Indians saw themselves as trying to overthrow the American government and I don’t think my original comment suggested that. If so, I apologize. They were looking to protect their homeland, nothing more. They would certainly be classified as American veterans, but not US veterans, and that is probably how they would want it, considering the raw deal they received between 1492 and 1890 (and beyond).

        • agapeio July 16, 2015 / 2:05 pm

          thank you, I agree on every point, and I did reconsider my response to overthrowing the govt because it was still being established…they were not a part of the US the few “united” states of the time. which comes to the blue and gray where the one encompassed the task of clearing the land for the establishing of states/govt and the other tasked to import and hold on to the resource provided that would help expand their land/property. blue=forcing a culture of humans to be evacuated….gray=forcing a culture of humans to remain in bondage….this was the great division, bottom line. Were both veterans of America-yes…were they both a part of the “united” states-no because the break in ranks caused the division. blue=united states American
          veterans…gray=American veterans.my culture/heritage consists of all parties involved. Black-White-Indian…give credit where credit is due regardless of the outward symbols used to denote this fact (acts of congress)…the hart knows the truth when ever mindful of the accolades, still each heart has a different beat.

    • Kristoffer July 15, 2015 / 5:14 pm

      I’d love to see you time travel to the early 20th century, go up to some Native Americans on a reservation who had fought against the U.S. Army, and try to tell them that they were U.S. veterans.

      • agapeio July 17, 2015 / 4:27 pm

        my point exactly…not a part of the “united” states…just a staple of the Americas

  4. Stefan Jovanovich July 15, 2015 / 10:04 am

    The people who fought for Confederacy and the people who fought on behalf of what the Constitution identifies as “the Indian tribes” all lived within what are now the boundaries of the United States of America and their present descendants are all citizens, by birth right.

    Ultimately, the question of being a “veteran” becomes a matter of government benefits and very little else. The members of the American and British merchant marine in the Atlantic convoys are not officially classified as “veterans”; yet they endured far greater risk and had far greater death and injury rates than every other group in WW II except Marine infantrymen and Eighth Air Force bomber crews.

  5. Laqueesha July 15, 2015 / 2:59 pm

    They’re “American veterans” in the sense that they’re from the Americas. That’s all.

    They’re certainly not U.S. veterans.

  6. jclark82 July 15, 2015 / 5:28 pm

    Confederates are not American veterans in the sense of what we consider an American soldier. One either commissioned or enlisted in the service of the citizens of the United States.

    They killed, wounded, returned to slavery and tortured soldiers of the United States and fought for a treasonous amalgam of states dedicated to destroying this nation in the name of slavery.

    I look on confederate soldiers the way I look on soldiers of the Wehrmacht or King George, enemies of the citizens of the U.S. and whose success would’ve been a detriment to mankind.

    I am an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Army and when I was in Basic Training we received a training guide book (called a “smart book”) and in it listed the casualties of the Army in all American wars. The Army only lists Union casualties in the Civil War, I think that’s a pretty definitive answer the Army viewed them as an enemy then and now.

    Jerry Sudduth Jr.

  7. OhioGuy July 16, 2015 / 6:43 am

    There is a good quote on this issue from Frederick Douglass. I don’t have it in front of me at the moment and I’m pressed for time, but it said something along the lines that there was no moral equivalence between those who fought for freedom and those who fought for slavery. His clear message was that they weren’t heroes on any level and were on the wrong side of history. I think old Fred would role over in his grave at the thought of considering them U.S. veterans, or even American veterans. They were traitors. He was a compassionate man and might have favored help for their widows and orphaned children. If I’ve interpreted Fred correctly, I’ll stand with him.

  8. OhioGuy July 16, 2015 / 6:44 am

    that would be “role over in his grave . . .” not “role over.” Some kind of Freudian slip, I guess.

  9. OhioGuy July 16, 2015 / 6:45 am

    Crap . . . I see it’s a Freudian slip of my spell checker …. roll over!!!!

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