George H.W. Bush from HISTORY's two-night event "Presidents at War" premiering Sunday, Feb. 17. Photo by Brendan George Ko/History

A new History Channel special will focus on eight American presidents who served in uniform in the United States military before serving as commander in chief.

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Editor’s Note: This article by Richard Sisk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

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Photoillustration/Adam Weinstein

Ronald Reagan — conservative icon, emblematic commander in chief, cowboy — popularized what he called “the Eleventh Commandment” through his political career: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”

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AUSA photo by Luc Dunn

By choosing to remain on active-duty, Army Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, President Donald Trump’s pick for national security advisor, will be the first active-duty military leader to serve in that role in roughly 30 years. No national security advisor has been on active duty since then-Army Lt. Gen. Colin Powell held the role for President Ronald Reagan from 1987 to the end of the Reagan administration in 1989.

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AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

In December of 1981, just a month before President Ronald Reagan took office, an NBC/Associated Press public opinion survey found that 76% of Americans believed that nuclear war was “likely” within a few years, an increase from 57% just six months earlier. As a result of skilled diplomacy and unconventional thinking, the Reagan administration was not only able to avoid a nuclear conflict with the Soviet Union, but by the conclusion of his presidency, the two Cold War adversaries were well on the path to a peaceful, negotiated solution to the nuclear arms race.

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