Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is the day when people in the United States honor and remember those who died in war. Originating from the time of the American Civil War, following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and the creation of the United States National Cemetery System for the Union war dead. It was not until the 20th century the holiday was extended to honor all those who died while serving in the United States military.

Memorial Day being observed.

Honoring the fallen on Memorial Day is observed by families attending services at a variety of locations like cemeteries or high school gymnasiums. Family members often leave message or flowers on the graves of those who were lost in conflicts around the world. A day of mourning combined with gratitude for their sacrifice, knowing what to say on this occasion is important.

To help you find the right words for this event, we’ve organized sayings, messages, and quotes you can use for Memorial Day messages, speeches, and inscriptions to honor those who sacrificed everything for our country.

Memorial Day Quotes to Honor the Fallen

National cemetery.

Memorial Day is one of the most important and solemn events in the American calendar and millions of people gather to commemorate those who lost their lives in battle. Many also leave messages of remembrance at this time. Here are some quotes you can use to honor our fallen heroes.

  • “America without her soldiers would be like God without His angels.” – Claudia Pemberton
  • “I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty, and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it’s marked by the blood of those who died defending it.” – John Thune
  • “Never was so much owed by so many few.” – Winston Churchill
  • “Patriotism is when love of your own people comes first; nationalism, when hate for people other than your own comes first.” – Charles de Gaulle
  • “The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.” – Jeff Miller
  • “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” – Joseph Campbell
  • “A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.” – Bob Dylan

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

  • “Heroism doesn’t always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history.” – Mary Roach
  • “Heroism is not only in the man, but in the occasion.” – Calvin Coolidge
  • “I have long believed that sacrifice is the pinnacle of patriotism.” – Bob Riley
  • “I love America more than any other country in the world, and exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” – James A. Baldwin
  • “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” – Nathan Hale
  • “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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  • “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.” – Norman Schwarzkopf
  • “It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God such men lived.” – 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
  • “Never throughout history has a man who lived a life of ease left a name worth remembering.” – Theodore Roosevelt
  • “No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation.” – General Douglas MacArthur

“Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. it flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it.” – Unknown

  • “Our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never fully repay.” – Barack Obama
  • “Over all our happy country over all our Nation spread, is a band of noble heroes–is our Army of the Dead.” – Will Carleton
  • “Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” – Adlai Stevenson
  • “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.” – Mark Twain
  • “There is nothing nobler than risking your life for your country.” – Nick Lampson
  • “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in America.” – William J. Clinton
  • “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” – Elmer Davis
  • “Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • “What I can do for my country, I am willing to do.” – Christopher Gadsden
  • “Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory there would be no civilization, no future.” – Elie Wiesel
  • “You will never do anything in this world without courage.” – Aristotle

Memorial Day Words for Loved Ones

Remembering our fallen patriots.

Losing a loved one is beyond difficult. Losing someone in a conflict, sacrificing themselves for their country’s safety is one of the hardest things to face. Here are some brief words you can share in a message or speech.

  • A life that touches others goes on forever.
  • Always on my mind …. Forever in my heart.
  • As long as we live, they too will live; for they are now are a part of us; as we remember them.
  • Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.
  • Death is only a shadow across the path to heaven.
  • Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal.
  • Every day, in some small way, memories of you come our way. Though absent, you are ever near, still missed, still loved, and ever dear.
  • Gone from my life forever, but never gone from my heart.
  • Gone yet not forgotten. Although we are apart, your spirit lives within me, forever in my heart.
  • Goodbye is not forever. Goodbye is not the end. It simply means I’ll miss you until we meet again.
  • Grief is the last act of love we have to give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.
  • He lives with us in memory and will for evermore.
  • I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and loved today.
  • I did not see you close your eyes or hear your last sigh. I only heard that you were gone, too late to say goodbye.

I think of you as watching from a time and space beyond the sky, a place where we might someday come.

  • If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.
  • It takes a minute to find something special in a person, an hour to appreciate them, and a day to love them, but it takes an entire lifetime to forget them.
  • No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.
  • Remembering you is easy. I do it every day. But there is an ache within my heart that will never go away.
  • Strength without insolence, Courage without ferocity, And all the virtues of Man without his vices.
  • The song is ended, but the melody lingers on.
  • There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.
  • There are special people in our lives who never leave us …. even after they are gone.
  • There is no death. Only a change of worlds.
  • Those that touch our lives …. stay in our hearts forever.
  • Those we have held in our arms for a little while, we will hold in our hearts forever.
  • Those we love don’t go away. They walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near.
  • Till memory fades and life departs, you live forever in our hearts.
  • To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die.
  • To the world you might be one person, but to us …. you were the world.
  • We do not remember days, we remember moments.
  • What the heart has once owned and had, it shall never lose.
  • What we once have enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes part of us.
  • When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.
  • Wherever a beautiful soul has been, there is a trail of beautiful memories.
  • Whoever said death was the hard part was wrong. Letting go and realizing I will never see, feel and hear you again is even harder.
  • You are missed every hour of every day.
  • You left us peaceful memories, your love is still our guide; and though we cannot see you, you are always at our side.
  • Your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever.
  • Your love will light our way. Your memory will forever be with us.

Memorial Day Quotes for Ceremonies

The American Flag.

Holding ceremonies on Memorial Day is common across the country, and many attend these services, commemorating those who gave their lives in service to their country, the eyes of God. Here, we have collated a number of quotes given for Memorial Day by those who have lost, served, and honored the fallen.

  • 137 years later, Memorial Day remains one of America’s most cherished patriotic observances. The spirit of this day has not changed – it remains a day to honor those who died defending our freedom and democracy. – Doc Hastings
  • A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and woods, but it is a principle and patriotism is loyalty to that principle. – George William Curtis
  • America is hope. It is compassion. It is excellence. It is valor. – Paul Tsongas

As America celebrates Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those who have given their lives in our nation’s wars. – John M. McHugh

  • Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. – George Washington
  • I have long believed that sacrifice is the pinnacle of patriotism. – Bob Riley
  • I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. – James Baldwin
  • I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country. – Nathan Hale
  • I would rather be remembered by a song than by a victory. – Alexander Smith
  • In remembering those who lost their lives in the London attacks and the September 11th attacks we continue our commitment to fighting for freedom, democracy and justice. – Doc Hastings
  • In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Man is a military animal, glories in gunpowder, and loves parade. – Philip James Bailey

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  • May Heaven be propitious, and smile on the cause of my country. – Zebulon Pike
  • Memorial Day isn’t just about honoring veterans, its honoring those who lost their lives. Veterans had the fortune of coming home. For us, that’s a reminder of when we come home we still have a responsibility to serve. It’s a continuation of service that honors our country and those who fell defending it. – Pete Hegseth
  • Memorial Day this year is especially important as we are reminded almost daily of the great sacrifices that the men and women of the Armed Services make to defend our way of life. – Robin Hayes
  • My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. – John F. Kennedy
  • On Memorial Day, I don’t want to only remember the combatants. There were also those who came out of the trenches as writers and poets, who started preaching peace, men and women who have made this world a kinder place to live. – Eric Burdon
  • On what rests the hope of the republic? One country, one language, one flag! – Alexander Henry
  • Over all our happy country – over all our Nation spread, Is a band of noble heroes – is our Army of the Dead. – Will Carleton
  • Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong. – James Bryce
  • Patriotism was a living fire of unquestioned belief and purpose. – Frank Knox
  • The average American is nothing if not patriotic. – Herbert Croly

The heroes of Flight 93 won the first battle in the War on Terror, and they should never be forgotten. – Jim Ramstad

  • The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude. – Jeff Miller
  • There are no points of the compass on the chart of true patriotism. – Robert Charles Winthrop
  • There is nothing nobler than risking your life for your country. – Nick Lampson
  • There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured with what is right in America. – William J. Clinton
  • There’s intense national feeling in America that could be called patriotism. – Michael Ignatieff
  • These fallen heroes represent the character of a nation who has a long history of patriotism and honor – and a nation who has fought many battles to keep our country free from threats of terror. – Michael N. Castle
  • True patriotism isn’t cheap. It’s about taking on a fair share of the burden of keeping America going. – Robert Reich

What to say on Memorial Day