Lincoln was received warmly and politely, though he did not escape criticism from his political enemies for this speech as for other acts of his presidency. Clinton was booed by some in the crowd and was challenged by certain veterans and some political enemies for being at the war memorial at all because he had never himself served in the military and had indeed avoided the Vietnam War with student deferments.
Each of the situations related to a different war, though the Civil War and the Vietnam War were arguably the two most divisive episodes in American history. Of course, the Civil War divided the country literally, with North against South, brother against brother, while the War in Vietnam divided the country ideologically and emotionally in terms of whether or not different groups thought the war should be fought at all. Lincoln was very much a symbol of the Civil War to both sides, a symbol of strength and determination to the North, and a symbol of perfidy and betrayal to the South. Clinton was a student at the time of the Vietnam War and did not serve in the armed forces. During his election campaign, his failure to serve and certain actions attributed to him as a war protester became campaign issues. Still, he won the election, but the issue was raised again and again--it was raised when he addressed the question of gays in the military, it was raised when he spoke at the Wa