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Vet Poetry

Military Quotes
Table of contents




War of Independence

War of 1812

War Between
the States


World Wars

Post Modern

Sayings / Proverbs







The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars
and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards
and its fighting done by fools.


I do not fear an army of lions, if they are led by a lamb.
I do fear an army of sheep, if they are led by a lion.
— Alexander the Great


We will either find a way or make one.
— Hannibal (247-183 BC)
Carthaginian general


Alea Iacta Est = The Die is Cast
— Julius Caesar, 100-44 B.C.
attributed, when crossing the Rubicon 49 B.C.



Veni, vidi, vici = I came, I saw, I conquered
— Julius Caesar, 100-44 B.C.
From Plutarch's Life of Caesar after the defeat of Pharnaces at Zela in 47 BC


The fear of war is worse than war itself.
     — Seneca


Execute every act of thy life as though it were thy last.
— Marcus Aurelius, 121-180. B.C


The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious.
— Marcus Aurelius, 121-180. B.C


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Cowards die many times before their deaths;
the valiant never taste death but once.
— William Shakespeare, 1564-1616, Julius Caesar

In peace nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility; but
when the blast of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the
tiger; stiffen the sinews, disguise fair nature with hard favored rage ...
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his
blood with me, Shall be my brother; be ne'er so vile, This day shall gentle
his condition. And gentlemen in England now abed, Shall think themselves
accursed they were not here, And hold their manhood's cheap whiles any
speaks, That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day ... From now until
the end of the world, we and it shall be remembered.  We few,
we Band of Brothers. For he how sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.
— William Shakespeare, 1564-1616, King Henry V



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War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.
The decayed and degraded state of moral and
patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is
much worse.  The person who has nothing for which he is
willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his
own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has
no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the
exertions of better men than himself.
— John Stuart Mill (1868)


We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready
in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.
— George Orwell


Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.
— Robert Lewis Stevenson



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War of Independence


War is a terrible trade.  But when the cause
is just, the smell of gunpowder is sweet.
— Miles Standish (American Colonial)


The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave ...
— Patrick Henry


I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.
— Nathan Hale


The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
— Edmund Burke, 1729-1797
British statesman and philosopher


If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was
landed in my country I never would lay down my arms, never! Never! Never!
— William Pitt, 1708-1778


I have not yet begun to fight!
— Captain John Paul Jones
aboard the Bon Homme Richard


I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way.
— John Paul Jones, later adopted by the US Navy's Special Boat Units


These are the times that try men's souls.  The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.  Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.  What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly:  it is dearness only that gives everything its value.
      — Thomas Paine, The American Crisis


To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.
     — George Washington, first annual address to Congress, 1790


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War of 1812

We have met the enemy and they are ours!
— Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry dispatch
Battle of Lake Erie, 10 September 1813



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War Between the States



Don't say it's impossible! Turn your command over to the next officer.  If he can't do it,
I'll find someone who can, even if I have to take him from the ranks!
— General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, 1824–1863



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Put your trust in God, but keep your powder dry.
— Oliver Cromwell, 1599-1658
Lord Protector of England


Everything which the enemy least expects will succeed the best.
— Frederick the Great's Instructions to his Generals


By push of bayonets, no firing until you see the whites in their eyes!
— Frederick the Great (1712–1786), at Prague, 1757


Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
— Napoleon Bonaparte



Victory belongs to the most persevering.
— Napoleon Bonaparte


Fools say that they learn by experience.  I prefer to profit by others experience.
- Otto Von Bismarck, 1815–1898


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World Wars


Get action.  Seize the moment.  Man was never intended to become a oyster.
— Theodore Roosevelt


It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again.  Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause.  Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.  So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
     — Theodore Roosevelt, The Man in the Arena


Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.
— H. M. Forgy, chaplain
USS New Orleans
Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941



South Pacific Theatre — Guadalcanal — the Battle of Henderson Field:  
A single battalion stood between a regiment strength Japanese Sendai Division and a vital airstrip.  Providentially, the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Lewis B. Puller nicknamed “Chesty” for his barrel torso.  The Japanese force suffered over 1400 killed in action and the airfield was held by the battalion with the Americans sustaining 70 casualties ...  


All right, they're on our left, they're on our right, they're in front of us, they're behind us ... they can't get away this time.
— Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller, (1898-1971), USMC
most decorated Marine in history


We're Surrounded ... That Simplifies Our Problems
— Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller, (1898-1971), USMC
most decorated Marine in history


Diplomats are just as essential in starting a war as soldiers are in finishing it.
— Will Rogers


Never give in —never, never, never, never,
in nothing great or small, large or petty,
never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.
Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently
overwhelming might of the enemy.
— Winston Churchill


It is more agreeable to have the power to give than to receive.
— Winston Churchill


An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
— Prime Minister Winston Churchill


History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.
— General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1890–1969


Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
— General Dwight D. Eisenhower


We are not retreating - we are advancing in another direction.
— General Douglas MacArthur


If a man does his best, what else is there?
- General George S. Patton


On 22 December 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, Anthony Clement McAuliffe (1898-1975) was acting commander of the 101st Airborne Division in charge of the defense of Bastogne, Belgium.  The advancing German forces called on his garrison to surrender.  The Americans were surrounded.  Instead, Anthony McAuliffe wrote:

"To the German Commander:  NUTS!  The American Commander."  Bastogne was successfully held by the Americans.



Americans never quit.
— General Douglas Macarthur (1880 - 1964)


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Post Modern


Here's my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose."
— Ronald Reagan


Of the four wars in my lifetime none came about because the U.S. was too strong.
— Ronald Reagan


I learned that good judgment comes from experience
and that experience grows out of mistakes.
— General Omar N. Bradley, 1893-1981

A war put off is not a war avoided.
— Charlton Heston


Some people live an entire lifetime and wonder if they have
ever made a difference in the world, but the Marines don't
have that problem.
— Ronald Reagan


Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward.
Freedom will be defended!
— President George W. Bush, 11 September 2001


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The best armor is staying out of gun-shot.
— Italian proverb


Freedom isn't free.
— Anonymous


If it moves, salute it; if it doesn't move, pick it up; and if you can't pick it up, paint it.
— Anonymous (1940's saying)


Train hard, fight easy ... and win.
Train easy, fight hard ... and die.
— Unknown


It is better to live one day as a lion than a hundred years as a sheep.
— Italian proverb


Under a good general there are no bad soldiers.
— Chinese proverb


Though all under heaven be at peace, if the art of war be forgotten there is peril.
— Chinese proverb


True gold does not fear the test of fire.
— Traditional Chinese proverb


The hammer shatters glass but forges steel.
— Russian proverb


Tomorrow's battle is won during today's practice.
— Samurai maxim



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