24 Patriotic Memorial Day Quotes for Every American
Honor the sacrifice of our heroic fallen with these Memorial Day quotes; they deliver words of wisdom on what it means to be patriotic.
“Here men endured that a nation might live.”—Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover, the 31st president, spoke these words at Valley Forge on Memorial Day in 1931. He addressed a crowd of 20,000 with a speech filled with Memorial Day quotes that capture the essence of the day. He addressed George Washington’s battle on that same site: “Here Washington and his little band of hungry and almost naked patriots kept alive the spark of liberty in the lowest hours of the Revolution.” He went on to say, “It is this high spirit that we commemorate when we pay our yearly tribute of reverence to those who in all wars have stood steadfast and those who have died in the service of our country.”
“We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage.”—Theodore Roosevelt
Teddy Roosevelt took office in 1901, becoming the 26th president. He spoke these words in 1898 at Carnegie Hall in New York during a campaign event. He was known for rousing oration and his words are often used for Memorial Day quotes because he so often addressed courage and sacrifice.
“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
Jennifer Granholm was governor of Michigan from 2003-2011, and she wrote these words to honor veterans on Memorial Day in 2012, urging both service and commemoration as part of daily life. Check out these 13 Memorial Day facts that you probably didn’t learn in school.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”—Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s wisdom always inspires. Here, he eloquently speaks about the importance of speaking out and taking a stand. He encouraged people to break free from complacency and use their voice for good. Don’t miss more iconic quotes from Dr. King.
“Memorial Day isn’t just about honoring veterans, it’s honoring those who lost their lives. Veterans had the fortune of coming home. For us, that’s a reminder of when we come home we still have a responsibility to serve. It’s a continuation of service that honors our country and those who fell defending it.”—Pete Hegseth
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Memorial Day quotes move us because—like this one—they capture the essence of the day set aside for tribute. Hegseth served in the U.S. Army National Guard before becoming a Fox News Channel contributor.
“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” —John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy spoke these famous words during his inaugural speech on January 20, 1961. Although he won the presidency by a slim margin, he aimed to unite the populace and inspire service—and accomplished much before his assassination.
“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.”—Aristotle
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The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that courage was one of the greatest virtues, but he didn’t want people to be foolhardy or reckless. In his definition, courage meant facing challenges with strength and confidence even when one knows the outcome will be bad or that failure was possible. Courage has to have a point—one worthwhile and good.
“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”—Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was a prolific writer and civil rights activist who received the 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom in addition to numerous other awards. Her life and work inspired Americans to take on injustice and to recognize the beauty and value of diverse voices.
“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”—Mark Twain
Literary humorist Mark Twain spoke these words in 1901 at an event for the “Male Teachers Association” in New York about civics curriculum. Twain claimed in the speech that he wouldn’t go “further into politics,” but he also offered that he would teach children that “all men are created free and equal”—a promise he would ensure his children would keep.
“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.”—Eleanor Roosevelt
This quote comes from Eleanor Roosevelt’s You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life, first published in 1960 and written when the former first lady and human rights activist was 76. In it, she encourages people, through her own example, to take on a life of public service. If you’re still interested in first ladies, find out if any have come from your state.