Many of us think of Memorial Day as a federal holiday where most people have a day off to barbeque, go to the beach or travel, but in fact there’s a great deal of historical significance attached to the day.
Celebrated annually in May, Memorial Day is an occasion for remembering those who died while serving their country in the United States armed forces. It’s not to be confused with Veteran’s Day, an annual holiday in November that honors everyone who served in the U.S. military.
Memorial Day was first observed in 1868, when it was called Decoration Day, a day set aside to honor the 600,000 U.S. men and women who died in the Civil War. Millions more have served since, and many have made the ultimate sacrifice.
To commemorate the holiday, here are 14 Memorial Day quotes said by influential people.
“The average American is nothing if not patriotic.” -Herbert Croly
“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” -Mark Twain
“Better to die fighting for freedom than be a prisoner all the days of your life.” -Bob Marley
“Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn’t block traffic.” -Dan Rather
“The brave die never, though they sleep in dust: Their courage nerves a thousand living men.” -Minot J. Savage
“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” -Joseph Campbell
“I am proud to be an American. Because an American can eat anything on the face of this earth as long as he has two pieces of bread.” -Bill Cosby
“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.” -John F. Kennedy
“What’s right about America is that although we have a mess of problems, we have great capacity – intellect and resources – to do something about them.” -Henry Ford
“There is nothing wrong with America that the faith, love of freedom, intelligence, and energy of her citizens can not cure.” -Dwight David Eisenhower
“I have long believed that sacrifice is the pinnacle of patriotism.” –Bob Riley
“Who kept the faith and fought the fight; The glory theirs, the duty ours.” –Wallace Bruce
“The patriot’s blood is the seed of Freedom’s tree.” –Thomas Campbell
“The dead soldier’s silence sings our national anthem.” –Aaron Kilbourn