Not all U.S. presidents have been inspiring figures, as evidenced by the current occupant of the Oval Office.
But many have not simply been inspiring, but they left many millions of Americans aspiring to be more like them.
On this Memorial Day as we pause to remember and honor the men and women who were called into military service or volunteered and went on to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country, it seems appropriate to recount some of the most amazing, patriotic, and inspirational quotes from some of our past presidents (sorry, Biden fans — we haven’t heard much from him we’d consider even nominally inspirational) and other historical figures:
“But freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it and then hand it to them with the well-thought lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don’t do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” – Ronald Reagan
“Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” – Mark Twain
“It’s better to fight for something in life than to die for nothing.” – Gen. George S. Patton
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.” – Gen. George S. Patton
“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy
“Duty, honor, country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.” – Gen. Douglas MacArthur
“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” – Joseph Campbell
“Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.” – Elie Wiesel
Okay, even Bill Clinton gets a shout-out: “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in America.”
But you know what they say — you save the best for last. Here are some passages from one of the most inspiring speeches given by a president in recent memory, as excepted from Donald Trump’s 2017 Inauguration Day speech:
We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and restore its promise for all of our people.
For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have born the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories.
This is your day. This is your celebration, and this, the United States of America, is your country.
January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.
We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example.
It’s time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget, that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots.
Together we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And, yes, together, we will make America great again.