The best Memorial Day quotes to honor and remember the fallen (2024)

Falling on Monday, May 27 this year, Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer.

Much like July 4 or Labor Day, Memorial Day is a federal holiday, and banks, credit unions and the post office are closed in observance.

Families often use the three-day weekend as an opportunity to host backyard cookouts or spend the day at the beach to kick off the summer season.

Memorial Day, however, is also a designated day of remembrance for U.S. military personnel and intended to honor those who've given their lives in service to their country.

To pay tribute, we've gathered a list of Memorial Day quotes to recognize those courageous men and women who've made the ultimate sacrifice.

Established in 1868, Memorial Day was initially founded in remembrance of Confederate and Union soldiers who perished in the Civil War. In the decades since, the holiday, which is also referred to as "Decoration Day," has come to represent all Americans lost in war.

On Memorial Day it is common for friends and families to remember loved ones with flowers, flags and mementos placed at their gravesite.

However you choose to spend Memorial Day this year, take a moment to share one of these inspiring quotes and remember to thank members of the U.S. military for their service.

Memorial Day quotes

The best Memorial Day quotes to honor and remember the fallen (1)
  • “The secret of happiness is freedom, the secret of freedom is courage.” — Carrie Jones
  • “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.” ―Winston Churchill
  • “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” — Arthur Ashe
  • “He who is brave is free.” — Lucius AnnaeusSeneca
  • "The wind is us ― it gathers and remembers all our voices, then send them talking and telling through the leaves and the fields." ― Truman Capote
The best Memorial Day quotes to honor and remember the fallen (2)
  • “One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, one Nation, evermore!” — Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • “Freely we serve, Because we freely love, as in our will to love or not; in this we stand or fall.” — John Milton, “Paradise Lost”
  • “Liberty is the breath of life to nations.” — George Bernard Shaw
  • "When duty calls, that is when character counts." — William Safire
  • “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” — Elmer Davis
The best Memorial Day quotes to honor and remember the fallen (3)
  • "Scared is what you're feeling. Brave is what you're doing." — Emma Donoghue
  • "For each thorn, there's a rosebud...For each twilight — a dawn...For each trial — the strength to carry on, For each storm cloud — a rainbow...For each shadow — the sun...For each parting — sweet memories when sorrow is done." — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage." — Theodore Roosevelt
  • "The patriot’s blood is the seed of freedom’s tree." — Thomas Campbell
  • “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” — James Allen
The best Memorial Day quotes to honor and remember the fallen (4)
  • "Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country." — George Washington
  • “In valor there is hope.” — Tacitus
  • “The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.” — W.E.B. DuBois
  • “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”―Thomas Campbell
  • “I got to fight on till I leave here, and I hope I leave some footprints.” — Mattie Jones
The best Memorial Day quotes to honor and remember the fallen (5)
  • “Your memory feels like home to me. So whenever my mind wanders, it always finds its way back to you.” — Ranata Suzuki
  • "Without a sign his sword the brave man draws and asks no omen but his country's cause." — Homer
  • "The legacy of brave men and women who have fought and died for their country is the freedom we enjoy as Americans." – Lucian Adams
  • "Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just one step at a time." – Eleanor Roosevelt
  • "The brave may fall, but never yield.” – Author unknown
The best Memorial Day quotes to honor and remember the fallen (6)
  • “One lives in the hope of becoming a memory.”―Antonio Porchia
  • "Think about the past and consider the sacrifices men and women in the military have made for us." – Gary G. Wetzel
  • "America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand." – Harry S. Truman
  • “Bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid.” — Colonel David Hackworth
  • “Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.” — Michelle Obama
The best Memorial Day quotes to honor and remember the fallen (7)
  • “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” — Benjamin Disraeli
  • "Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed by the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels." – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • "Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality." — Emily Dickinson
  • "For let the gods so speed me, as I love the name of honor more than I fear death.' — Julius Cesar
  • “Freely we serve, because we freely love, as in our will to love or not; in this we stand or fall.” — John Milton, “Paradise Lost”
The best Memorial Day quotes to honor and remember the fallen (8)
  • “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” — Nathan Hale
  • "Americans may not only pay tribute to our honored dead but also unite in prayer for success in our search for a just and lasting peace." — John F. Kennedy, "Prayer for Peace," Memorial Day 1962
  • "Be strong. Live honorably and with dignity. When you don’t think you can, hold on.” — James Frey, "A Million Little Pieces"
  • "A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom." — Bob Dylan
  • "Courage is found in unlikely places." — J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Fellowship of the Ring"
The best Memorial Day quotes to honor and remember the fallen (9)
  • "Our own heart, and not other men's opinions, forms our true honor." — Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • "Valorisstability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul." — Michel de Montaigne
  • "Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness." — Napoleon Hill
  • “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.” — Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address
The best Memorial Day quotes to honor and remember the fallen (10)
  • “The essence of patriotism lies in a willingness to sacrifice for one’s country, just as true greatness finds expression, not in blessings enjoyed, but in good bestowed.” — William Jennings Bryan
  • “I was born an American; I will live an American; I shall die an American!” — Daniel Webster
  • “The way to be patriotic in America is not only to love America, but to love the duty that lies nearest to our hand, and to know that in performing it we are serving our country.” — Woodrow Wilson
  • “I see that the old flagpole still stands. Have your troops hoist the colors to its peak, and let no enemy ever haul them down.” — Douglas MacArthur
  • “The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.” — Calvin Coolidge

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Sarah Lemire

Sarah is a lifestyle and entertainment reporter for TODAY who covers holidays, celebrities and everything in between.

The best Memorial Day quotes to honor and remember the fallen (2024)
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