Wood’s career as big as his grave marker

Sometimes I just wander through Arlington National Cemetery without any agenda and see what I see.

I came across the biggest grave marker I’ve ever encountered that wasn’t some sort of monument. Turns out it was the appropriate size.

Leonard Wood’s military rise was something out of a Forrest Gump tale. In 10 years, he went from captain to Army chief of staff.

Wood graduated Harvard medical school and entered the Army in 1883 because he was bored just practicing medicine. Wood was first sent to Arizona where he earned a Congressional Medal of Honor for assisting in the capture of Apache chief Geronimo.

Next up was White House physician to presidents Grover Cleveland and William McKinley where Wood also became friends with Teddy Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Naturally, the Spanish American War began and Roosevelt, now president, appointed Wood as commander of the Rough Riders.

Wood then spent three years as governor of Cuba working with Walter Reed (seriously, how many names can we drop in one story?) to combat malaria. Wood then spent one year as commander of the Philippine Division for governor William Howard Taft. Six years later, President Taft made Wood the Army chief of staff.

In 1920. Wood finally tasted defeat when seeking the Republican presidential nomination where he lost the 10th convention vote to Warren Harding. Instead, he became colonial governor of the Philippines.

Wood died in 1927 during an operation. He’s buried near the Rough Riders not far from the mast of the Maine.

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