Useful Quotations on the Military

Pithy Prose for Politicians, Preachers, Professors, Pundits, and Public Speakers.

“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.” Marcus Aurelius

“Be polite; write diplomatically; even in a declaration of war one observes
the rules of politeness.” Otto Von Bismarck

“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an
election.” Otto Von Bismarck

“Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by others experience”
Otto Von Bismarck

“The most dangerous moment comes with victory” Napoleon Bonaparte

“There are but two powers in the world, the sword and the mind. In the long run the sword is always beaten by the mind.” Napoleon Bonaparte

“Read over and over again the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus, Turenne, Eugene and Frederic. … This is the only way to become a great general and master the secrets of the art of war. …”Napoleon Bonaparte, “Military Maxims of Napoleon”

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

“I learned that good judgment comes from experience and that experience grows out of mistakes.” General Omar N. Bradley

“Men are nearly always willing to believe what they wish.” Julius Caesar

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. You ask, what is our policy? I say it is to wage war by land, sea, and air. War with all our might and with all the strength God has given us, and to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory. Victory at all costs – Victory in spite of all terrors – Victory, however long and hard the road may be, for without victory there is no survival.”
Winston Churchill in his initial speech as Prime Minister to the House of Commons (10 May 1940)

It’s no use saying, ”We are doing our best.” You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary. Winston Churchill

This is no time for ease and comfort. It is the time to dare and endure. Winston Churchill

“The majority of people are timid by nature, and that is why they constantly exaggerate danger. All influences on the military leader, therefore, combine to give him a false impression of his opponent’s strength, and from this arises a new source of indecision.”
Karl von Clausewitz

“The first and most important rule to observe…is to use our entire forces with the utmost energy. The second rule is to concentrate our power as much as possible against that section where the chief blows are to be delivered and to incur disadvantages elsewhere, so that our chances of success may increase at the decisive point. The third rule is never to waste time. Unless important advantages are to be gained from hesitation, it is necessary to set to work at once. By this speed a hundred enemy measures are nipped in the bud, and public opinion is won most rapidly. Finally, the fourth rule is to follow up our successes with the utmost energy. Only pursuit of the beaten enemy gives the fruits of victory.”
Karl von Clausewitz

“The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy.” Clausewitz (1780-1831)

“On becoming soldiers we have not ceased to be citizens.” Oliver Cromwell’s Soldiers (“Humble Representation”)

“To lead uninstructed people to war is to throw them away.” Confucius

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog” General Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 1958. Republican National Convention

“History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.”
General Dwight D. Eisenhower

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

“A defensive war is apt to betray us into too frequent detachment. Those generals who have had but little experience attempt to protect every point, while those who are better acquainted with their profession, having only the capital object in view, guard against a decisive blow, and acquiesce in small misfortunes to avoid greater.” Frederick the Great

“Without supplies no army is brave” Frederick the Great, “Instructions to his Generals” 1747

“I am up and about when I am ill, and in the most appalling weather. I am on horseback when other men would be flat out on their beds, complaining. We are made for action, and activity is the sovereign remedy for all physical ills.” Frederick the Great

“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

“I yield to no man in sympathy for the gallant men under my command; but I am obliged to sweat them tonight, so that I may save their blood tomorrow.” General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson

“In matters of style swim with the current in matters of principle stand like a rock.” Thomas Jefferson

The downfall of civilized states tends to come not from the direct assaults of foes, but from internal decay combined with the consequences of exhaustion in war. Sir Basil H. Liddel-Hart

As has happened so often in history, victory had bred a complacency and fostered an orthodoxy which led to defeat in the next war. Sir Basil H. Liddel-Hart (Strategy, 1954; discussing the French army between the World Wars)

An army should always be so distributed that its parts can aid each other and combine to produce the maximum possible concentration of force at one place, while the minimum force necessary is used elsewhere to prepare the success of the concentration. Sir Basil H. Liddel-Hart

“We are not retreating – we are advancing in another Direction.” General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964)

A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him. General Douglas MacArthur

“One cannot wage war under present conditions without the support of public opinion, which is tremendously molded by the press and other forms of propaganda.” General Douglas MacArthur

“In no other profession are the penalties for employing untrained personnel so appalling or so irrevocable as in the military.” General Douglas MacArthur

There is no security in this life. There is only opportunity. Gen Douglas MacArthur

By profession I am a soldier and take pride in that fact. But I am prouder — infinitely prouder — to be a father. A soldier destroys in order to build; the father only builds, never destroys. The one has the potentiality of death; the other embodies creation and life. And while the hordes of death are mighty, the battalions of life are mightier still. It is my hope that my son, when I am gone, will remember me not from the battle field but in the home repeating with him our simple daily prayer, ”Our Father Who Art in Heaven.” General Douglas MacArthur

“I hold it to be of great prudence for men to abstain from threats and insulting words towards any one, for neither the one nor the other in any way diminishes the strength of the enemy; but the one makes him more cautious, and the other increases his hatred of you, and makes him more persevering in his efforts to injure you” Niccolo Machiavelli

“It is absurd to believe that soldiers who cannot be made to wear the proper uniform can be induced to move forward in battle. Officers who fail to perform their duty by correcting small violations and in enforcing proper conduct are incapable of leading.” General George S. Patton Jr., April 1943

“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” General George Patton (1885-1945)

“The test of success is not what you do when you’re on top. Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” General George S. Patton, Jr

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. General George Patton Jr

“Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men.” General George S. Patton, Jr

“If you are going to win any battle, you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do… the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.” General George S. Patton

“Paper-work will ruin any military force” Lieutenant-General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller

“We’re surrounded. That simplifies the problem.” Attributed to Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, USMC

“Few men are born brave. Many become so through training and force of discipline”-Flavius Vegetius Renatus

“The courage of the soldier is heightened by the knowledge of his profession”
Flavius Vegetius Renatus

“Be an example to your men, in your duty and in private life. Never spare yourself, and let the troops see that you don’t in your endurance of fatigue and privation. Always be tactful and well-mannered and teach your subordinates to do the same. Avoid excessive sharpness or harshness of voice, which usually indicates the man who has shortcomings of his own to hide.” Field Marshall Erwin Rommel

“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.” William Shakespeare (“King Henry V”)

“The more comfort the less courage there is” Field Marshal Prince Aleksandr V. Suvorov, Published in “Soviet Military Review” 1979

“Accustom yourself to tireless activity…” Field Marshal Prince Aleksandr V. Suvorov

We must remember that one man is much the same as another, and that he is best who is trained in the severest school.” Thucydides, “History of the Peloponnesian War” (431-404 B.C.)

“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.” Thucydides

Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death. If, however, you are indulgent, but unable to make your authority felt; kind-hearted, but unable to enforce your commands; and incapable, moreover, of quelling disorder: then your soldiers must be likened to spoilt children; they are useless for any practical purpose. Sun Tzu

The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable. Sun Tzu

“Military tactics are like unto water, for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downward. So in war, the way to avoid what is strong is to strike what is weak.” Sun Tzu

Everlasting peace is a dream, and not even a pleasant one; and war is a necessary part of God’s arrangement of the world. Without war, the world would slide dissolutely into materialism. Helmuth von Moltke (1800-1891)

Useful Quotations on Fame, Glory and Honor

Pithy Prose for Politicians, Preachers, Professors, Pundits, and Public Speakers.

John 8:54 – Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’;

John 7:18 – “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

Proverbs 27:2 – Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.

“Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in knowing you have earned them.” Aristotle

“Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.” Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

“No amount of ability is of the slightest avail without honor.” Andrew Carnegie

“After I’m dead I’d rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one.” Cato the Elder (234-149 BC, AKA Marcus Porcius Cato)

“Honor is better than honors.” Flemish Proverb

“Visibility can be the easiest path to credibility.” MDH

“Don’t compromise yourself. It’s all you’ve got.” Janis Joplin

“We laugh at honor, and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” C.S. Lewis

“His cardinal mistake is that he isolates himself and allows nobody to see him; and by which he does not know what is going on in the very matter he is dealing with.” Abraham Lincoln, 9 September 1861

To make judgements about great and high things, a soul of the same stature is needed; otherwise we ascribe them to that vice which is our own. Montaigne (1533-1592, French writer)

“Rather fail with honor than to succeed by fraud.” Sophocles

“It is better to deserve honors and not receive them than to receive them and not deserve them.” Mark Twain

Veteran’s Day

Veterans Day began as Armistice Day, the holiday proclaimed by US President Woodrow Wilson on 11 November 1919 to mark the end of the “Great War”, also known as the “War to end all wars”, World War 1. Sadly, the very fact that the number one follows the words “world war” reminds us that another, even more terrible war followed only 20 years later. On 1 September 1939, World War 2 began. After the carnage of this second disaster, veterans petitioned the US government to change the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day, honoring all veterans of all American wars. On 1 June 1954, this change became law.

Violence, evil and war are sad but real parts of the fallen world in which we live. Police protect us as individuals from violence at home, and soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines protect us from the greatest earthly threats, personal and even national destruction in time of war. Veteran’s Day is a time to remember those who have stood in the gap between America and her enemies. These men, and increasingly women, have guarded our freedoms and won the freedoms of others through their sweat, their tears, and their blood. All Americans must honor their sacrifice, and must consider what we as individuals can do for our country. All must be good citizens, paying taxes, obeying the laws, and working hard to contribute to their families and communities. Some must take the mantle of military service, taking the place of those who have gone before.

The following letter demonstrates the spirit of a man who truly understood the nature of his life and the necessity of sacrifice. It is one of my favorites. The letter was written in 1940 by the copilot of a Wellington bomber in Britain’s Royal Air Force, Flying Officer Vivian Rosewarne. He was killed in action shortly afterwards.

An Airman’s Letter to His Mother

Dearest Mother:

Though I feel no premonition at all, events are moving rapidly and I have instructed that this letter be forwarded to you should I fail to return from one of the raids that we shall shortly be called upon to undertake. You must hope on for a month, but at the end of that time you must accept the fact that I have handed my task over to the extremely capable hands of my comrades of the Royal Air Force, as so many splendid fellows have already done.

First, it will comfort you to know that my role in this war has been of the greatest importance. Our patrols far out over the North Sea have helped to keep the trade routes clear for our convoys and supply ships, and on one occasion our information was instrumental in saving the lives of the men in a crippled lighthouse relief ship. Though it will be difficult for you, you will disappoint me if you do not at least try to accept the facts dispassionately, for I shall have done my duty to the utmost of my ability. No man can do more, and no one calling himself a man could do less.

I have always admired your amazing courage in the face of continual setbacks; in the way you have given me as good an education and background as anyone in the country: and always kept up appearances without ever losing faith in the future. My death would not mean that your struggle has been in vain. Far from it, it means that your sacrifice is as great as mine. Those who serve England must expect nothing from her; we debase ourselves if we regard our country as merely a place in which to eat and sleep.

History resounds with illustrious names who have given all; yet their sacrifice has resulted in the British Empire where there is a measure of peace, justice and freedom for all, and where a higher standard of civilization has evolved, and is still evolving, than anywhere else. But this is not only concerning our own land. Today we are faced with the greatest organized challenge to Christianity and civilization that the world has ever seen, and I count myself lucky and honoured to be the right age and fully trained to throw my full weight into the scale. For this I have to thank you. Yet there is more work for you to do. The home front will still have to stand united for years after the war is won. For all that can be said against it, I still maintain that this war is a very good thing: every individual is having the chance to give and dare all for his principle like the martyrs of old. However long the time may be, one thing can never be altered – I shall have lived and died an Englishman. Nothing else matters one jot nor can anything ever change it.

You must not grieve for me, for if you really believe in religion and all that it entails that would be hypocrisy. I have no fear of death; only a queer elation … I would have it no other way. The universe is so vast and so ageless that the life of one man can only be justified by the measure of his sacrifice. We are sent to this world to acquire a personality and a character to take with us that can never be taken from us. Those who just eat and sleep, prosper and procreate, are no better than animals if all their lives they are at peace.

I firmly believe that evil things are sent into the world to try us; they are sent deliberately by our Creator to test our mettle because He knows what is good for us. The Bible is full of cases where the easy way out has been discarded for moral principles.

I count myself fortunate in that I have seen the whole country and known men of every calling. But with the final test of war I consider my character fully developed. Thus at my early age my earthly mission is already fulfilled and I am prepared to die with just one regret: that I could not devote myself to making your declining years more happy by being with you; but you will live in peace and freedom and I shall have directly contributed to that, so here again my life will not have been in vain.

Your loving son

The nature of life is that sacrifice never ends on this side of the grave. Parents sacrifice money, time, and much of themselves for their children, and this does not end when the children grow up and leave home. Children sacrifice for their aging parents, and we all sacrifice for the ailing in our family and friends. The rich give to the poor (Leviticus 23:22). Even the sick and disabled are not exempt; they give what they can for the benefit of others. Abraham was preeminent over Lot, but he still gave the younger man the first choice of the land (Genesis 13:8-12). The prophet Jeremiah sacrificed marriage and family for the sake of his ministry (Jeremiah 16:2). The widow had little, but she gave what she had (Mark 12:41-44). On the cross, the dying Jesus cared for the thief (Luke 23:42-43) and for His mother (John 19:26-27). No one is exempt from the requirement of sacrifice for the benefit of others, and that sacrifice has no end.

Flying Officer Rosewarne’s sacrifice ended on the next mission, but thankfully most veterans’ sacrifice does not. America has thousands of veterans who survived despite terrible injuries such as the loss of multiple limbs. Each of us must do our part to help them in their recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. We do this in part in gratitude for what they have done, but even more to help them prepare for sacrifices yet to come. Soldiers fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan for the benefit of their countrymen know something about sacrifice; that is why they serve. This does not change when they are injured. Though most can no longer serve in uniform, they can serve as teachers, businessmen, fathers, husbands, and in a thousand other ways. The same is true for injured female veterans. Like all of us, they will continue to sacrifice for the benefit of others to their dying day.

Veteran’s Day highlights the sacrifices of those who have served in uniform. Let us remember their sacrifices, and the sacrifices that we all must make, as we travel life’s highway.