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In today’s busy world, it becomes easy to forget about the importance of remembering our fallen ones. Remembering the purpose of Memorial Day becomes difficult when we’re clouded with our plans for the long weekend and the summer that’s just around the corner.
Each Memorial Day reminds us that freedom can never be truly free, that the lives of some of the country’s bravest have been lost to war fighting for the freedom that should never be taken for granted.
This May, we’re celebrating the lives of those who served the American armed forces and died fighting for us—these are the people we should be thankful for because they gave their lives so that Americans could have freedom in theirs.
Memorial Day: A Brief History
Nobody truly knows where this tradition originated—many towns claim to be its birthplace. A formal burial was done by the residents of a town for those soldiers who died in prison during the civil war.
At first, their bodies were buried in unmarked graves and their identities were consequently left anonymous. To pay their respects and to properly bid them goodbye, people living in the city where these soldiers were imprisoned organized a burial for them.
In the years that followed the Civil War, this same gesture was done in many other places in America until it became its own tradition, reinforcing patriotism and love for the United States.
This holiday is celebrated on the last Monday of May so that Americans in the country and around the world can reflect on and be thankful for all that has been done for their freedom.
Memorial Day Today
This holiday reminds us of how privileged we truly are to be able to live free because of the soldiers who served the country and sacrificed their lives. We are reminded to never take freedom for granted because so many people lost their lives fighting for what we have now.
Memorial Day honors the bravery and dedication of these American soldiers. They may have come from different walks of life, but they all shared the same qualities: courage, honor, respect, strength, and selflessness, to name a few.
They all followed the same path and shared the same fate. We are left in awe as we live amid the family and friends that they have left behind, and we are left to think of what we can do to make our country better so that we can continue to honor what they stood for.
You can always celebrate Memorial Day in your own special way—whether it’s visiting the grave of a soldier you knew, attending a parade, or even just offering a moment of silence, no gesture is too small if it is done in remembrance of our dearly departed and to honor their loved ones.
To help commemorate the lives of our soldiers, here are some of the best quotes we’ve gathered from the nation’s greatest leaders and writers.
Best Memorial Day Quotes and Sayings
- “Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory there would be no civilization, no future.” – Elie Wiesel
- “America without her soldiers would be like God without His angels.” – Claudia Pemberton
- “So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good.” – Helen Keller
- “And they who for their country die shall fill an honored grave, for glory lights the soldier’s tomb, and beauty weeps the brave.” – Joseph Rodman Drake
- “Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” – Adlai Stevenson II
- “Our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never fully repay.” – Barack Obama
- “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.” – K. Chesterton
- “Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.” – Sun Tzu
- “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” – Benjamin Disraeli
- “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter the words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy
- “Heroism is not only in the man, but in the occasion.” – Calvin Coolidge
- “Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.” – Theodore Roosevelt
- “Ceremonies are important. But our gratitude has to be more than visits to the troops, and once-a-year Memorial Day ceremonies. We honor the dead best by treating the living well.” – Jennifer M. Granholm
- “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” – Elmer Davis
- “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
- “Who kept the faith and fought the fight; the glory theirs, the duty ours.” – Wallace Bruce
- “No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.” – Douglas MacArthur
- “For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.” – James A. Garfield
- “Heroism doesn’t always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history.” – Mary Roach
- “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.” – George S. Patton
- “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
- “Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.” – Unknown
- “Veterans are a symbol of what makes our nation great, and we must never forget all they have done to ensure our freedom.” – Rodney Frelinghuysen
- “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” – James Allen
- “May we never forget freedom isn’t free.” – Unknown
- “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” – Joseph Campbell
- “The brave die never, though they sleep in dust, their courage nerves a thousand living men.” – Minot J. Savage
- “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.” – Norman Schwarzkopf
- “The patriot’s blood is the seed of freedom’s tree.” – Thomas Campbell
- “To those in uniform serving today and to those who have served in the past, we honor you today and every day.” – Unknown
- “Never was so much owed by so many few.” – Winston Churchill
- “Home of the free, because of the brave.” – Unknown
- “Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.” – Abraham Lincoln
- “We cherish too, the Poppy red that grows on fields where valor led, it seems to signal to the skies that blood of heroes never dies.” – Moina Michael
- “The highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country.” – George S. Patton Jr.
- “Finally, I wish to remember the millions of Allied servicemen and prisoners of war who lived the story of the Second World War. Many of these men never came home; many others returned bearing emotional and physical scars that would stay with them for the rest of their lives. I come away from this book with the deepest appreciation for what these men endured, and what they sacrificed, for the good of humanity.” – Laura Hillenbrand
- “Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes. Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.” – Robert A. Heinlein
- “Tonight, when you go to bed, say a prayer that God watch over those who watch over us, and thank them for their sacrifices, on and off the battlefield. Pray that they have a peaceful night, and will be home soon with their families who also share their burden. Without them, we would not have this moment.” – Neil Leckman
- “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” – Mark Twain
- “We sleep safely at night because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would harm us.” – Winston S. Churchill
- “Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.” – Theodore Roosevelt
- “Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.” – John Adams
- “In the aftermath, we are because they were.” – RJ Heller
- “Do not forget that the armed forces are the servants of the people. You do not make national policy; it is we, the civilians, who decide these issues and it is your duty to carry out these tasks with which you are entrusted.” – A. Jinnah
- “The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” – Abraham Lincoln
- “Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They’re just braver 5 minutes longer.” – Ronald Reagan
- “This country has not seen and probably will never know the true level of sacrifice of our veterans. As a civilian, I owe an unpayable debt to all our military. […] Let’s all take a remembrance for all veterans who served or are serving, peacetime or wartime and gone or still with us.” – Thomas M. Smith
- “In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country can change it.” – Barack Obama
- “War brings out the kind of pride in a country that encourages its citizens in the direction of excellence and it encourages them to be ready to die for it. At no time do people work so well together to achieve the same goal as they do in wartime.” – Andy Rooney
- “That’s what any committed patriot would do: Fight to the last. Defeat your enemy at any cost; then hope you have enough left to rebuild.” – Randolph D. Calverhall
- “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” – George Orwell
- “My own heroes are the dreamers, those men and women who tried to make the world a better place than when they found it, whether in small ways or great ones. Some succeeded, some failed, most had mixed results…but it is the effort that’s heroic, as I see it. Win or lose, I admire those who fight the good fight.” – George R.R. Martin
- “The events of that day would forever be remembered, and they stood together as a united Marridon, a nation that would lead in innovation and liberality, taking up the thread that had been left for them, the essence of selfless love woven along a national loom.” – Michelle Franklin
- “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” – Plato
- “Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.” – Oscar Wilde
- “My country owes me nothing. It gave me, as it gives every boy and girl, a chance. It gave me schooling, independence of action, opportunity for service and honor.” – Herbert Hoover
- “Soldiers themselves are reluctant to evaluate the costs of war, but someone must. That evaluation, ongoing and unadulterated by politics, may be the one thing a country absolutely owes the soldiers who defend its borders.” – Sebastian Junger
- “Damn the wars but bless the soldier.” – L. Moffitt
- “It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organize the peace.” – Aristotle
- “You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don’t ever count on having both at once.” – Robert A. Heinlein
- “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” – K. Chesterton
- “America’s finest – our men and women in uniform – are a force for good throughout the world, and that is nothing to apologize for.” – Sarah Palin
- “Where humanity sowed faith, hope, and unity, joy’s garden blossomed.” – Aberjhani
- “Your country is proud of you.” – J. Hatch
- “Patriotism means to stand by the people, not to stand by the party.” – Sumit Agarwal
- “If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.” – Kristin Hannah
- “Serving my country was a life-changing experience for me. It was during those years that I realized the importance of commitment, dedication, honor, and discipline. I have never laughed so much; nor have I ever prayed so much. I made life-long friends. The leaders and heroes I served with helped shape me into the man I am today. I feel honored to have been a part of such a great tradition and grateful to others who have walked the same path.” – Steve Maraboli
- “They were all in and they were all together, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” – Bob Richardson
- “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of those who threaten it.” – S. Department of the Navy
- “It may sound corny, but what’s wrong with wanting to fight for your country. Why are people reluctant to use the word patriotism?” – Jimmy Stewart
- “To be heroic is to be courageous enough to die for something.” – Criss Jami
- “To the veterans of the United States of America: Thank you, for the cost you paid for our freedom, thank you for the freedom to live in safety and pursue happiness, for freedom of speech (thus my book), and for all the freedoms that we daily take for granted.” – Sara Niles
- “No soldier outlives a thousand chances. But every soldier believes in Chance and trusts his luck.” – Erich Maria Remarque
- “Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.” – Brodi Ashton
- “And when all the wars are over, a butterfly will still be beautiful.” – Ruskin Bond
- “If we don’t end war, war will end us.” – G. Wells
- “I don’t believe in the Constitution because I’m American, I’m American because I believe in the Constitution.” – S.B. Morse
- “Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their greatness goes unnoticed. It is all part of the fairy tale.” – Peter S. Beagle
- “The birthplace of anarchy is the cemetery of freedom.” – Craig D. Lounsbrough
- “Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes.” – Bertolt Brecht