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Quotations for Memorial Day


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On thy grave the rain shall fall from the eyes of a mighty nation!  ~Thomas William Parsons


Although no sculptured marble should rise to their memory, nor engraved stone bear record of their deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored.  ~Daniel Webster


With the tears a Land hath shed
Their graves should ever be green.
~Thomas Bailey Aldrich


Are they dead that yet speak louder than we can speak, and a more universal language?  Are they dead that yet act?  Are they dead that yet move upon society and inspire the people with nobler motives and more heroic patriotism?  ~Henry Ward Beecher


Green sods are all their monuments; and yet it tells
A nobler history than pillared piles,
Or the eternal pyramids.
~James Gates Percival


Is't death to fall for Freedom's right?
He's dead alone who lacks her light!
~Thomas Campbell


For love of country they accepted death...  ~James A. Garfield


They fell, but o'er their glorious grave
Floats free the banner of the cause they died to save.
~Francis Marion Crawford


Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.  ~From a headstone in Ireland


Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!
There's none of these so lonely and poor of old,
But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold.
~Rupert Brooke


The brave die never, though they sleep in dust:
Their courage nerves a thousand living men.
~Minot J. Savage


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


And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
~Lee Greenwood


They are dead; but they live in each Patriot's breast,
And their names are engraven on honor's bright crest.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Peace to each manly soul that sleepeth;
Rest to each faithful eye that weepeth...
~Thomas Moore


But the freedom that they fought for, and the country grand they wrought for,
Is their monument to-day, and for aye.
~Thomas Dunn English


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 Drake


Go ye to the graves and decorate,
Place flags for boys who have died;
Kneel down and say prayers for your loved ones,
But know they're still by your side!
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "Memorial Day—1945"


Perform, then, this one act of remembrance before this Day passes - Remember there is an army of defense and advance that never dies and never surrenders, but is increasingly recruited from the eternal sources of the American spirit and from the generations of American youth.  ~W.J. Cameron


How sleep the brave, who sink to rest,
By all their country's wishes blest!
When Spring, with dewy fingers cold,
Returns to deck their hallow'd mould,
She there shall dress a sweeter sod
Than Fancy's feet have ever trod.
By fairy hands their knell is rung,
There Honour comes, a pilgrim gray,
To bless the turf that wraps their clay;
And Freedom shall awhile repair,
To dwell, a weeping hermit, there.
~William Collins


The patriot's blood is the seed of Freedom's tree.  ~Thomas Campbell


Decoration Day is the most beautiful of our national holidays.... The grim cannon have turned into palm branches, and the shell and shrapnel into peach blossoms.  ~Thomas Bailey Aldrich


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


We who are left how shall we look again
Happily on the sun or feel the rain
Without remembering how they who went
Ungrudgingly and spent
Their lives for us loved, too, the sun and rain?
~Wilfred Wilson Gibson


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


Who kept the faith and fought the fight;
The glory theirs, the duty ours.
~Wallace Bruce


I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day.  I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it.  We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.  ~Benjamin Harrison


Cover them over with beautiful flowers,
Deck them with garlands, those brothers of ours,
Lying so silent by night and by day
Sleeping the years of their manhood away.
Give them the meed they have won in the past;
Give them the honors their future forcast;
Give them the chaplets they won in the strife;
Give them the laurels they lost with their life.
~Will Carleton


Life hangs as nothing in the scale against dear Liberty!  ~Lucy Larcom


All we have of freedom, all we use or know -
This our fathers bought for us long and long ago.
~Rudyard Kipling, The Old Issue, 1899


Our battle-fields, safe in the keeping
Of Nature's kind, fostering care,
Are blooming, - our heroes are sleeping, -
And peace broods perennial there.
~John H. Jewett


These heroes are dead.  They died for liberty - they died for us.  They are at rest.  They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines.  They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Place of Rest.  Earth may run red with other wars - they are at peace.  In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.  I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead:  cheers for the living; tears for the dead.  ~Robert G. Ingersoll


Their silent wounds have speech
More eloquent than men;
Their tones can deeper reach
Than human voice or pen.
~William Woodman


Their own souls rose and cried
Alarum when they heard the sudden wail
Of stricken freedom and along the gale
Saw her eternal banner quivering wide.
~John LeGay Brereton


The dead soldier's silence sings our national anthem.  ~Aaron Kilbourn


Our cheer goes back to them, the valiant dead!
Laurels and roses on their graves to-day,
Lilies and laurels over them we lay,
And violets o'er each unforgotten head.
~Richard Hovey


But fame is theirs - and future days
On pillar'd brass shall tell their praise;
Shall tell - when cold neglect is dead -
"These for their country fought and bled."
~Philip Freneau


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


Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers;
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The story of America's quest for freedom is inscribed on her history in the blood of her patriots.  ~Randy Vader


Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Alas, how can we help but mourn
When hero bosoms yield their breath!
A century itself may bear
But once the flower of such a death.
~S. Weir Mitchell


They hover as a cloud of witnesses above this Nation.  ~Henry Ward Beecher


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


They saw their injured country's woe;
The flaming town, the wasted field;
Then rushed to meet the insulting foe;
They took the spear, - but left the shield.
~Philip Freneau


For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity.  ~William Penn


Ah! never shall the land forget
How gushed the life-blood of her brave -
~William Cullen Bryant


"Dead upon the field of glory,"
Hero fit for song and story.
~John Randolph Thompason


Knights of the spirit; warriors in the cause
Of justice absolute 'twixt man and man.
~Richard Watson Gilder


Fold him in his country's stars.
Roll the drum and fire the volley!
What to him are all our wars,
What but death bemocking folly?
~George Henry Boker


The Flag still floats unblotted with defeat!
But ah the blood that keeps its ripples red,
The starry lives that keep its field alight.
~Rupert Hughes


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


We come, not to mourn our dead soldiers, but to praise them.  ~Francis A. Walker


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



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Last modified 2014 Dec 10 Wed 13:36 PST


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