21 Memorial Day Quotes To Help Commemorate American Heroes

Published May 11, 2016
Updated November 9, 2023

No nation has achieved prosperity without sacrifice, typically borne by servicemen and women. Their work — always grueling, often thankless and occasionally fatal — lays the foundation for expanded freedoms and opportunities at home both today and tomorrow. Here are 21 Memorial Day quotes to help you commemorate those whose blood and sweat afford you comfort and security:

Memorial Day Quotes
"Aspire rather to be a hero than merely appear one."

-- Balthasar Gracian, Spanish philosopher and Jesuit

Memorial Day Quotes Flanders Fields 100 Years Since The Great War
"For love of country they accepted death."

-- James Garfield.

Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

JFK Country
"Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country."

-- John F. Kennedy.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Benjamin Disraeli Cane
The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.

-- Benjamin Disraeli, British prime minister

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

US President Bill Clinton Poses For Photographs Af
"There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America."

-- Bill Clinton.


Soldiers From 4th Brigade Combat Team Return From Afghanistan Deployment
"The greatest glory of a free-born people is to transmit that freedom to their children."

-- William Havard, playwright.

Photo: Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

Norman Schwarzkopf
"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."

-- U.S. Army General Norman Schwarzkopf

Memorial Day Quotes George Patton
"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived."

-- General George S. Patton

Charles Sangster
"The hero dead cannot expire: The dead still play their part."

-- Charles Sangster, Canadian poet

Billy Graham
"Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened."

-- Billy Graham

Memorial Day Quotes Bob Marley
"Better to die fighting for freedom than be a prisoner all the days of your life."

-- Bob Marley

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Eric Burdon
"On Memorial Day, I don’t want to only remember the combatants. There were also those who came out of the trenches as writers and poets, who started preaching peace, men and women who have made this world a kinder place to live."

-- Eric Burdon, of The Animals

George Washington
"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."

-- George Washington

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Joseph Campbell
"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."

-- Joseph Campbell, American writer

Mark Twain
"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it."

-- Mark Twain

Joseph Rodman
"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, American poet

"How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!"

-- Maya Angelou

"Four things support the world: the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the good, and the valor of the brave."

-- Prophet Muhammad

"Only the dead have seen the end of war."

-- Plato

Schuyler Colfax
"These martyrs of patriotism gave their lives for an idea."

-- Schuyler Colfax, American politician and journalist

Thomas Campbell
"The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree."

-- Thomas Campbell, Scottish poet

Next, check out these inspirational quotes guaranteed to change your worldview.

Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Cox, Savannah. "21 Memorial Day Quotes To Help Commemorate American Heroes." AllThatsInteresting.com, May 11, 2016, https://allthatsinteresting.com/memorial-day-quotes. Accessed May 19, 2024.