The president may be America’s commander in chief, but over the years, many have experienced the same wartime wounds from losing family in battle as their fellow citizens. This Memorial Day weekend, test your knowledge of presidential relatives who made the ultimate sacrifice with this short, easy and fascinating quiz.
1. This president, who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for his own wartime gallantry, was deeply shaken by the loss of his son in World War I.
A. Grover Cleveland
B. William McKinley
C. Theodore Roosevelt
D. Calvin Coolidge
Answer: C. Quentin Roosevelt, 20, was shot down in aerial combat over France on Bastille Day (July 14) 1918. Roosevelt’s youngest son, he was the only child of a president ever killed in battle.
2. This future president lost two brothers in America’s war for independence.
A. Martin Van Buren
B. Andrew Jackson
C. John Adams
D. John Quincy Adams
Answer: B. Hugh Jackson died of heat exhaustion after the 1779 Battle of Stono Ferry near Charleston, South Carolina. Robert Jackson died of smallpox after being released from a British prison camp.
3. This president lost several in-laws who died fighting the cause he led.
A. Abraham Lincoln
B. Ulysses S. Grant
C. James Garfield
D. Benjamin Harrison
Answer: A. While Lincoln’s wife, Mary, was devoted to the Union, her younger half-brothers fought for the Confederacy. Two (Alexander and Samuel Todd) were killed. After her half-sister’s husband Brig. Gen. Ben Hardin Helm was killed at Chickamauga, both Lincolns were criticized for Emilie Helm staying with them in the White House.
4. In November 1781, John Parke “Jacky” Custis contracted a fever during the Siege of Yorktown and died at age 26, just 17 days after the British surrender. He was related to which future president?
A. John Adams
B. Andrew Jackson
C. George Washington
D. Millard Fillmore
Answer: C. Custis’ mother was Martha Custis Washington. He was George Washington’s stepson and served as the general’s aide-de-camp during the siege. After his death, George and Martha raised Custis’ two youngest children at Mount Vernon.
5. This future president was decorated for his heroism in World War II. His older brother was killed in the same conflict.
A. Gerald R. Ford
B. Richard M. Nixon
C. Lyndon B. Johnson
D. John F. Kennedy
Answer: D. While John F. Kennedy fought in the Pacific, older brother Joseph Kennedy Jr. was killed in Europe in 1944 on a mission involving a pilotless aircraft, a forerunner of today’s military drones.
6. On May 15, 1864, 10 teenage military cadets from the Virginia Military Institute were killed in the Battle of New Market, Va. One was related to which president?
A. George Washington
B. Thomas Jefferson
C. James Madison
D. James Monroe
Answer: B. Thomas Garland Jefferson was 17 and the great-grandnephew of his namesake.
7. Lt. Charles Carroll Wood was a descendant of an American president, but he died in 1899 while fighting as a citizen of another nation. Which one?
D. United Kingdom
Answer: A. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Wood was Zachary Taylor’s great-grandson. Another ancestor had signed the Declaration of Independence. He was the first Canadian officer killed in the Second Boer War fought in South Africa.