This Monday, we celebrate such an important holiday. On Memorial Day, we celebrate the gift of those brave men and women who gave everything in the service of our country. We hold parades, have parties, and show our gratitude for those amazing souls willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. Because it's good to remind each other that this isn't just a party day, here are someMemorial Day 2018 patriotic quotes to keep in mind as you watch the parades and head out to your backyard barbecue.
Originally known as "Decoration Day," according to History.com, Memorial Day was first recognized and celebrated in May of 1971. Known as the "unofficial start of Summer," there is always a bevy of parades, beach openings, and parties surrounding the celebration. Coming from a family which has lost loved ones in service to the United States, it's a particularly poignant holiday for me. For millennials in general, it's almost hard for us to think of a time when the United States was not at war. Most of us were very young at the beginning of the conflict in Afghanistan, and so our views tend to be skewed. I know I can be a bit jaded, so I find it helpful to be reminded of their service and sacrifice through the wise, funny, and unexpected quotes of others.
1. "The essence of America — that which really unites us — is not ethnicity, or nationality or religion — it is an idea — and what an idea it is: That you can come from humble circumstances and do great things." — Condoleezza Rice
Condoleeza Rice, the 66th U.S. Secretary of State, is truly gifted with words. Whether or not you agree with her politics, I think you can get on board with the sentiment behind this powerful quote.
2. “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
President Roosevelt was the 20th president of the United States. Known for his tough demeanor and no-nonsense attitude, he helped shape our country at the turn of the century.
3. "Here in America, we don't let our differences tear us apart. Not here. Because we know that our greatness comes from when we appreciate each other's strengths, when we learn from each other, when we lean on each other, because in this country, it's never been each person for themselves. No, we're all in this together. We always have been." — Michelle Obama
At the commencement for City College in May 2016 in New York City, during a rousing speech that spanned the topics from immigration to opportunity, the former first lady blew our minds with her unending surfeit of compassion and wisdom.
4. "Every generation of Americans has come together to make our country freer, fairer, and stronger. None of us can do it alone. I know that at a time when so much seems to be pulling us apart, it can be hard to imagine how we’ll ever pull together again. But I’m here to tell you tonight – progress is possible." — Hillary Clinton
Spoken at her 2016 National Convention speech, these words bring about a powerful feeling of community and possibility.
5. "...the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court, or the Senate or the House of Representatives, or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.” — Kurt Vonnegut
When you feel despondent about the country or the state of the government, look around at its people. This is essentially the whole of Vonnegut's book A Man Without a Country, from which this quote remains.
6. “You cannot spill a drop of American blood without spilling the blood of the whole world…. We are not a nation, so much as a world.” — Herman Melville
From Melville's tale about sailors, Redburn, this quote captures the American spirit of the differences that make us one.
7. “In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.” — President Obama
From then Candidate Obama's 2008 New Hampshire Primary speech, this quote fills you with a sense of purpose. He went on to talk about the promise that is America, and why it's so special.
8. "...in the United States of America, the tide of history is to expand freedom and end discrimination. The Preamble to the Constitution stands the test of time as one of the most powerful and beautiful statements of a nation’s purpose ever written, laying out our pledge to seek a ‘more perfect union.’ In every generation, Americans have stepped forward to challenge injustice and move us closer to the full promise of our ideals." — Nancy Pelosi
Having had the opportunity to speak with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at an academic event a few years ago, I was struck by just how genuine she was. She was eager to discuss the problems on people's hearts and work towards a solution. This quote definitely exemplifies what I witnessed.
9. “Yet America is a poem in our eyes; its ample geography dazzles the imagination, and it will not wait long for meters.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson and Whitman are often thought of as the quintessential American poets. They loved their country, and this quote, from Emerson's essay, "The Poet," touches the heart of its soul.
10. "I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually." —James Baldwin
From his essays Notes on a Native Son, James Baldwin acknowledges that America has always treated its citizens differently dependent upon race, class, religion, and culture. However, he still valued it as a place and a people, and sought with every word to improve it.
11. "Laughter is America's most important export." — Walt Disney
And Walt Disney should know.
12. "My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth." — Abraham Lincoln
I had a really rough time choosing a Lincoln quote, but this seems to capture the moment of his time and reflect our moment right now. It might be divided and difficult, but there's hope.
13. “'Mankind.’ That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom … Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution … but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist.” — President Thomas Whitmore
OK, maybe that's from Independence Day, but you know it makes you feel all tingly American right in your patriotic feel box.