Happy President’s Day from The Wise Guise! Even though there are more patriotic days (The Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Super Bowl Sunday to name a few), it is important that we reflect on this day of the 43 men who have served as our nation’s Chief Executive, Commander-in-Chief, and for many, the leader of the free world. Each man helped shape our country as it is today. But each man was simply one man, human like all of us, with many weaknesses and frailties that also contributed to their leadership of this nation, the greatest in the world.
So, on today, I felt it would be appropriate if I let each of these men speak for themselves. Clearly, with the help from BrainyQuote.com, my wife, and many social studies teachers growing up, these are quotes I have compiled. Some are funny. Some are poignant. Some are inspiring. But, on this day, let us sit back and reflect on these men who have served our nation. Let these words motivate us to be citizens worthy of great leadership.
George Washington: Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.
And, because he’s Founding Father George, he gets another quote, which is another warning. He was wise. “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”
John Adams: Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.
Thomas Jefferson: When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.
James Madison: If men were angels, no government would be necessary.
James Monroe: If we look to the history of other nations, ancient or modern, we find no example of a growth so rapid, so gigantic, of a people so prosperous and happy.
John Quincy Adams: If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
Andrew Jackson: Americans are not a perfect people, but we are called to a perfect mission.
Martin Van Buren: As to the presidency, the two happiest days of my life were those of my entrance upon the office and my surrender of it.
William Henry Harrison: There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power.
John Tyler: Wealth can only be accumulated by the earnings of industry and the savings of frugality.
James K. Polk: No president who performs his duties faithfully and conscientiously can have any leisure.
Zachary Taylor: I have always done my duty. I am ready to die. My only regret is for the friends I leave behind me.
Millard Fillmore: May God save the country, for it is evident that the people will not.
Franklin Pierce: With the Union my best and dearest earthly hopes are entwined.
James Buchanan: What is right and what is practicable are two different things.
Abraham Lincoln: With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Andrew Johnson: The goal to strive for is a poor government but a rich people.
Ulysses S. Grant: I know only two tunes: one of them is “Yankee Doodle,” and the other isn’t.
Rutherford B. Hayes: The President of the United States should strive to be always mindful of the fact that he serves his party best who serves his country best.
James Garfield: Man cannot live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter.
Chester Arthur: Good ballplayers make good citizens.
Grover Cleveland: A government for the people must depend for its success on the intelligence, the morality, the justice, and the interest of the people themselves.
Benjamin Harrison: I knew that my staying up would not change the election result if I were defeated, while if elected I had a hard day ahead of me. So I thought a night’s rest was best in any event.
Grover Cleveland: Honor lies in honest toil.
William McKinley: The free man cannot be long an ignorant man.
Theodore Roosevelt: (as important today as it ever was) A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues.
Teddy gets another one. After all, he gave us the Teddy Bear: A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.
And, one for the kids at school: A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.
William Howard Taft: The world is not going to be saved by legislation.
Woodrow Wilson: I am not sure that it is of the first importance that you should be happy. Many an unhappy man has been of deep service to himself and to the world.
Warren G. Harding: I don’t know much about Americanism, but it’s a damn good word with which to carry an election.
Calvin Coolidge: Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.
Herbert Hoover: Blessed are the young for they shall inherit the national debt.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly, and try another. But by all means, try something.
Because he was in office so long and confronted the Great Depression and World War II: There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny
Harry Truman: All the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing, and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.
Dwight Eisenhower: History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.
And, because I like Ike: Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.
And, because he helped win World War II: There is nothing wrong with America that faith, love of freedom, intelligence, and energy of her citizens cannot cure.
John F. Kennedy: Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men.
Lyndon B. Johnson: Being president is like being a jackass in a hailstorm. There’s nothing to do but to stand there and take it.
Richard Nixon: We must always remember that America is a great nation today not because of what government did for people but because of what people did for themselves and for one another.
And, because you can never be reminded enough: I am not a crook.
Gerald Ford: A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.
Jimmy Carter: America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense human rights invented America.
Ronald Reagan: All the great change in America begins at the dinner table.
And, because he ended the Cold War: How do you tell a communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin.
And, because he’s freakin’ Reagan: Protecting the rights of even the least individual among us is basically the only excuse the government has for even existing.
George H.W. Bush: America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. Is it to make kinder the face of the Nation and gentler the face of the world.
Bill Clinton: The future is not an inheritance, it is an opportunity and an obligation.
George W. Bush: I can hear you, the rest of the world can hear you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.
Barack Obama: Americans… still believe in an America where anything’s possible – they just don’t think their leaders do.
As we approach 2012, a Presidential election year, let us strive to believe in an America where anything is possible and elect leaders who will lead our country in making this more of a reality each and every day. May we be informed voters who keep our politicians accountable, so that our democracy may become stronger and our country may become better. God Bless America!