LightField Studios/Shutterstock
These Veterans Day Quotes Really Make You Think About What The Holiday Means

by Cat Bowen
Originally Published: 

Regardless of the current administration, political climate, or goings-on in the nation, we as a people are all grateful, respectful, and honored by our veterans' service. Every day these brave people put their lives on the line to serve, protect, and defend us as American citizens. Most of us will never understand the strength of character that is required of these fine human beings, or the many personal sacrifices made by their families. However, we are deeply and profoundly moved by their commitment. Here are 25 quotes for Veterans Day that represent the heart of our nation's soldiers.

Veterans Day 2019 is Monday, November 11. Each year we honor the loyalty of those who protect us every day, though one day does not seem sufficient for all they do. They are heroes in a world that seems bereft of such souls who are willing to place everything they have on the line in the hope that one day the world will be at peace. And what's special about Veterans Day is the fact that it focuses on those who are still here (unlike Memorial Day), so it's important to let them know just how much they're appreciated now, and that they will never be forgotten.


"A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom." — Bob Dylan

As per the Huffington Post, Dylan made these sentiments in regards to the war in Vietnam, for which he is known to have vehemently opposed.



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

As quoted in Southern Living, Maya Angelou noted the importance of recognizing soldiers of both genders.


"Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations, that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of a free and undivided Republic." — John A Logan

Mark Makela/Getty Images News/Getty Images

This quote is from the Journal of the... Annual Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic, Department of Kansas from 1901. It was in regards to the observance of soldier's memorials.


“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

Drew Angerer/Getty Images News/Getty Images

As cited in Lincoln's Men by William C Davis, this quote was given in a speech to a regimen of soldiers during the Civil War.


“The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” ― Colin Powell

Handout/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Given in an informal talk, this quote can be found in the Homeland Security Digital Library with the full transcript.


“We are part of what society can't bear to remember. Because if they really think about it, if they really look at us and realize the cost we've paid to keep them safe. They can't live with the guilt.” ― Barbara Nickless

From Nickless' tremendously popular military mystery novel, Blood On The Tracks.


“War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.” ― Jimmy Carter

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Carter spoke these memorable words in a speech when awarded the Nobel Laureate in Peace, as The Guardian reported.


"In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose." ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

Talk about appropriate: This passage is directly from Eisenhower's proclamation of Veterans Day.


“You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever count on having both at once.” ― Robert A. Heinlein

From Heinlein's masterful Stranger in A Strange Land.


11.“We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, though it never was. Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause.”― Ronald Reagan

Excerpted from Reagan's Veterans Day Ceremony Address at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, delivered on 11 November 1988, Washington D.C..


“Bless God, he went as soldiers, His musket on his breast — Grant God, he charge the bravest Of all the martial blest! Please God, might I behold him In epauletted white — I should not fear the foe then — I should not fear the fight!”― Emily Dickinson

From Dickinson's Time and Eternity collection of poems.


"Better than honor and glory, and History's iron pen, Was the thought of duty done and the love of his fellow-men."― Richard Watson Gilder

A beautiful quote from Gilder's poem, "Sherman."


“In the simple moral maxim the Marine Corps teaches ― do the right thing, for the right reason ― no exception exists that says: unless there's criticism or risk. Damn the consequences.” ― Josh Rushing

Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Wise words from Rushing's memoir, Mission Al-Jazeera: Build a Bridge, Seek the Truth, Change the World.


"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." ― JFK


“You've been told that you're broken, that you're damaged goods and should be labeled victims. I don't buy it.The truth, instead, is that you are the only folks with the skills, determination, and values to ensure American dominance in this chaotic world.” ― James Mattis

Zach Gibson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Secretary Mattis said this at San Francisco's Salute to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans as a General in 2014.


“As anyone who has experienced it will know, war is many contradictory things. There is brutality and heroism, comedy and tragedy, friendship, hate, love and boredom. War is absurd yet fundamental, despicable yet beguiling, unfair yet with its own strange logic. Rarely are people 'back home' exposed to these contradictions — society tends only to highlight those qualities it needs, to construct its own particular narrative.” ― Tim Hetherington

A profound truth from the book Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer.


"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." — Nelson Mandela

Michelly Rall/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Mandela's speech to the U.S. Congress in 1989 was filled with gems like this.


"Lord, bid war’s trumpet cease; fold the whole Earth in peace." — Oliver Wendell Holmes

From the song "God Bless Our Fatherland."


“It’s about how we treat our veterans every single day of the year. It’s about making sure they have the care they need and the benefits that they’ve earned when they come home. It’s about serving all of you as well as you’ve served the United States of America.” — Barack Obama

Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Barack Obama spoke up for those who served the country in his Veterans' Day address in South Korea in 2010.




“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


“... It is a proud privilege to be a soldier — a good soldier… [with] discipline, self-respect, pride in his unit and his country, a high sense of duty and obligation to comrades and to his superiors, and a self confidence born of demonstrated ability.” ― George S. Patton Jr.


"I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: 'I served in the United States Navy.'” — JFK

Carl Court/Getty Images News/Getty Images

JFK spoke in the early evening at Bancroft Hall at a ceremony honoring the new class of midshipmen in August of 1963, according to the JFK Library.


"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." — Winston Churchill

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images News/Getty Images

An unforgettable sentiment from a radio address on 20 July, 1940.

This article was originally published on