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 “I dig old books.”
 Est. 1998

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Quotations for Memorial Day

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NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.  —ღ Terri, March 2021

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

Green is the spring-time and blushing with bloom;
Bring we an offering to each soldier's tomb,—
Offering of blossoms, of song, and of tears;
Gratitude's outburst, the flower-mark of years.
      Love for the memories, bloom for the graves;
      Slumber on, slumber on, dust of the braves,
      Under the flowers, under the flowers,
      Under the flowers, dear dust of the braves...
~Sara L. Vickers Oberholtzer, "Under the Flowers" (A Decoration Ode), Come for Arbutus, and Other Wild Bloom, 1882

Rich with peace-perfume our thoughts rise to-day;
God-granted tribute we thankfully pay
Unto our heroes who crossed on war's tide;
Watching they wait us on Time's golden side.
      Love for the memories, bloom for the graves;
      Slumber on, slumber on, dust of the braves,
      Under the flowers, under the flowers,
      Under the flowers, dear dust of the braves.
~Sara L. Vickers Oberholtzer, "Under the Flowers" (A Decoration Ode), Come for Arbutus, and Other Wild Bloom, 1882

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

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

Here, old men's voices, low and weak
Shall raise the patriots song
Here, children's voices sweet and strong
The glorious song prolong.
~William Woodman, "Memorial Roll Call," 1892

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, "God Bless the U.S.A.," 1983 ♫

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, "Battle of Monmouth," American Ballads, 1879

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"

With slow and reverend tread,
I bring the roses red
To deck the soldier's bed
Emblem of blood they shed,
      For this our native land.
And I, white daisies bring
A simple offering,
Emblems of holy peace.
Oh, may its reign ne'er cease
      In this our happy land...
~William Woodman, "Emblems of Decoration Day," 1892

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 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, stanzas occasioned by the departure of the British from Charleston, December 14, 1782

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

Our Nation's Dead, to thee
Who died for liberty,
      Thy name we love.
We love thy deeds to sing,
We love to tribute bring,
We love to garlands fling,
      Thy graves above.
~William Woodman, "Our Patriot Dead," 1892

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

For the brave and the true
...the red, white and blue
Are united forever.
~William Woodman, "Emblems of Decoration Day," 1892

"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

Their silent wounds have speech
More eloquent than men;
Their tones can deeper reach
Than human voice or pen.
~William Woodman, "Memorial Roll Call," 1892

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

Our Patriot Dead, to thee,
Our homage full and free
      This day we bring,
Homage that's doubly due
To fearless men and true
Who dared the right to do,
      Thy praise we sing.
~William Woodman, "Our Patriot Dead," 1892

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

As patriot's songs, may we
True, faithful, loyal be,
      Thy flag defend.
May Wisdom crown our land,
May Peace and Plenty stand,
And Right our land command,
      Time without end.
~William Woodman, "Our Patriot Dead," 1892

Flanders Fields Poems

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
      That mark our place; and in the sky
      The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below. //
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
      Loved and were loved, and now we lie
            In Flanders fields. //
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
      The torch; be yours to hold it high.
      If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
            In Flanders fields.
~John McCrae (1872–1918), "In Flanders Fields," in Punch (London), 1915 December 8th  ["This poem was literally born of fire and blood during the hottest phase of the second battle of Ypres.... I have a letter from him in which he mentions having written the poem to pass away the time between the arrival of batches of wounded, and partly as an experiment with several varieties of poetic metre." ~Edward W.B. Morrison | "John McCrae witnessed only once the raw earth of Flanders hide its shame in the warm scarlet glory of the poppy. Others have watched this resurrection of the flowers in... successive seasons, a fresh miracle every time it occurs." ~Andrew Macphail, An Essay in Character, 1918 November 11th —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

In Flanders fields the cannon boom
And fitful flashes light the gloom,
      While up above, like eagles, fly
      The fierce destroyers of the sky;
      With stains, the earth wherein you lie
Is redder than the poppy bloom,
            In Flanders fields. //
Sleep on, ye brave. The shrieking shell,
The quaking trench, the startled yell,
The fury of the battle hell
Shall wake you not; for all is well.
Sleep peacefully; for all is well. //
Your flaming torch aloft we bear,
With burning heart an oath we swear
      To keep the faith, to fight it through,
      To crush the foe or sleep with you
            In Flanders fields.
~C.B. Galbreath (1858–1934), "In Flanders Fields: An Answer," c.1917

This crimson flower shall ever tell
Of those who triumphed as they fell,
      Who sleep at peace all dreamlessly;
      This flower shall fit memento be
For those whose days were ended well...
~C.B. Galbreath (1858–1934), "This Crimson Flower: The Poppy," c.1917

The war-worn world has found release,
      And in this chaste and hallowed bed
      Serenely sleep the martyred dead,
While falls the benison of peace
            In Flanders fields. //
Sleep, victors, sleep when falls the snow,
When spring returns, when poppies blow;
      Our legions heard your mute appeal,
      They kept the faith through fire and steel,
And when the battle flags were furled
Your torch illumined all the world
            From Flanders field.
~C.B. Galbreath (1858–1934), "In Flanders Fields: Victores Requiescunt," 1918

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