"Most all arguments, troubles and problems are fought from one side of a skull to the other. The six inch war fought in six inch battles: between the ears." - Barry Burnett
"The modern State exists not to protect our rights but to do us good or make us good -- anyway, to do something to us or to make us something. Hence the new name 'leaders' for those who were once 'rulers'. We are less their subjects than their wards, pupils, or domestic animals. There is nothing left of which we can say to them, 'Mind your own business.' Our whole lives are their business."--C.S. Lewis
"I cannot speak so confidently about the fighting qualities of the Eastern men, or what are called Yankees - not knowing myself particularly to whom the appellation belongs - but this I do know - if the Southerners think that man for man they are better than our Illinois men, or western men generally, they will discover themselves in a grievous mistake."- Abraham Lincoln, Feb. 17, 1862
"It has been said that the historian is the avenger, and that standing as a judge between the parties and rivalries and causes of bygone generations he can lift up the fallen and beat down the proud, and by his exposures and his verdicts, his satire and his moral indignation, can punish unrighteousness, avenge the injured or reward the innocent." --Sir Herbert Butterfield, 'The Whig Interpretation of History'
"Philosophers, comedians, and tipsy birthday celebrants all have proposed theories about why time seems to move increasingly swiftly as we grow older. But the most disconcerting rationale is not a theory. It is the undeniable realization that every day we live constitutes a smaller percentage of the accrued experience with which we awaken each morning, and therefore seems proportionately a smidgen quicker and smaller than the day before." - Michael Sims
"There are actually people who go out and re-fight these battles. You know what I say? Use real ammunition! You just might raise the intelligence level of the American gene pool!" - George Carlin
"The Internet is for lonely people." - Charlton Heston
"Polynikes turned again to Alexandros. When he resumed now, his voice was gentle and without malice; if anything it seemed informed with something not unlike kindness and even, odd as it sounds, sorrow. 'Mankind as it is constituted,' Polynikes said, 'is a boil and a canker. Observe the specimens in any nation other than Lakedaemon. Man is weak, greedy, craven, lustful, prey to every species of vice and depravity. He will lie, steal, cheat, murder, melt down the very statues of the gods and coin their gold as money for whores. This is man. This is his nature, as all the poets attest. Fortunately God in his mercy has provided a counterpoise to our species' innate depravity. That gift, my young friend, is war. War, not peace, produces virtue. War, not peace, purges vice. War, and preparation for war, call forth all that is noble and honorable in a man. It unites him with his brothers and binds them in selfless love, eradicating in the crucible of necessity all which is base and ignoble. There in the holy mill of murder the meanest of men may seek and find that part of himself, concealed beneath the corrupt, which shines forth brilliant and virtuous, worthy of honor before the gods. Do not despise war, my young friend, nor delude yourself that mercy and compassion are virtues superior to andreia, to manly valor.' He finished, turning to Medon and the elders. 'Forgive me for waxing long~winded.'" - From "Gates of Fire" by Steven Pressfield (a novel about Spartans and the battle of Thermopylae)
"In the final choice a soldier's pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner's chains." - Dwight Eisenhower
"You may be obliged to wage war, but not to use poisoned arrows." - Baltasar Gracian
"We have good corporals and good sergeants and some good lieutenants and captains, and those are far more important than good generals." - William Tecumseh Sherman
"Dulce bellum inexpertis." ("War is delightful to those who have no experience of it.") - Erasmus
"Those who do not do battle for their country do not know with what ease they accept their citizenship in America." - Dean Brelis
"We need to take nostalgia seriously as an energizing impulse, maybe even a form of knowledge. The effort to revalue what has been lost can motivate serious historical inquiry; it can also cast a powerful light on the present." - Jackson Lears
"Our spirit of life is not identical with that of our ancestors, and therefore their music, even if restored with utter technical perfections, can never have to us precisely the same meaning it had for them. We cannot tear down the barricade that separates the present world from things and deeds past." - Paul Hindemith (This is about music, but I think the application of this quote to reenacting is obvious.)
"The really historical performance would talk to ghosts." - Nietzsche
"The art of victory is learned in defeat." - Simon Bolivar
"If you have no courage you must have fast legs." - Anon.
"If you're going through hell, keep going." - Winston Churchill
"There could not possibly be 71 virgins awaiting them in heaven because as our hymn says, 'The streets are guarded by United States Marines!'" - U.S. Marine, Iraq
"When you men get home and face an anti-war protester, look him in the eyes and shake his hand. Then, wink at his girlfriend, because she knows she's dating a pussy." - Attributed to General Tommy Franks
"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf" - George Orwell
"In this business, you find the enemy, then go after and destroy him. Everything else is rubbish!" - Eddie Rickenbacker
"The Spartans do not enquire how many the enemy are, but where they are." - Agis II, 427 B.C.
"I like Marines because being a Marine is serious business. We're not a social club or a fraternal organization and we don't pretend to be one. We're a brotherhood of warriors - nothing more, nothing less, pure and simple. We are in the ass-kicking business, and unfortunately, these days business is good." - Col. James M. Lowe, Commander, MCB Quantico, 2004
"You may fly over a land forever; you may bomb it, atomize it, and wipe it clean of life - but if you desire to defend it, protect it, and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman Legions did - by putting your soldiers in the mud." - T.R. Fehrenbach, "This Kind of War"
"No absolute is going to make the lion lie down with the lamb unless the lamb is inside." - D.H. Lawrence
"This is a war universe. War all the time. There may be other universes, but ours seems to be based on war and games." - William S. Burroughs
"Here lies a Hampshire Grenadier/Who caught his death/Drinking cold small beer./A good soldier/Is ne'er forgot/Whether he dieth by musket/Or by pot." - Tombstone inscription found at Winchester Cathedral in England. ("Pot" is liquor and not cannabis.)
"I did not write it. God wrote it. I merely did His dictation." - Harriet Beecher Stowe
"Everyone has a plan until he gets hit." - Mike Tyson
"Even though he was an enemy of mine, I had to admit that what he had accomplished was a brilliant piece of strategy. First he punched me, then he kicked me, then he punched me again." - Jack Handey ("Deep Thoughts")
"...he probably doesn't mind suiting up, for the appeal of anachronistic costume is strong enough to make time-transvestism one of his most notorious secret vices." - Richard E. Crouch, in The Virginia Gentleman - A Field Guide, an Owner's Manual, a History and a Way of Life. (Crouch is speaking of hunting clothing, not a Reb uniform, but I liked the phrase "time-transvestism.")
"War is an initiation into the power of life and death. Women touch that power on the moment of birth, men at the edge of death." - William Broyles
"War is to man what motherhood is to women." - Benito Mussolini
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
"We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past; and we must respect the past, remembering that it was once all that was humanly possible." - George Santayana
"It is an interesting question how far people would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes." - Henry David Thoreau
"The new officer had early achieved a part of his ambition - to be called a brave man by established brave men." - Stephen Crane ("The Clan of No-Name")
Writing about Plymouth Rock: "This rock has become an object of veneration in the United States. I have seen bits of it carefully preserved in several towns of the Union. Does this sufficiently show how all human power and greatness are entirely in the soul? Here is a stone which the feet of a few poor fugitives pressed for an instant, and this stone becomes famous; it is treasured by a great nation, a fragment is prized as a relic. But what has become of the doorsteps of a thousand palaces? Who troubles himself about them?" - Alexis de Tocqueville
"There are no surer guarantees of equality among men than poverty and misfortune." - Alexis de Tocqueville
"The fact is that every war suffers a kind of progressive degradation with every month that it continues, because such things as individual liberty and a truthful press are simply not compatible with military efficiency." - George Orwell
"Diversity is okay but homogeneity is undervalued." - Jonah Begone
"An autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats." - George Orwell
"Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier." - Samuel Johnson
"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
"The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!" - Eleanor Roosevelt, 1945
"A ship without Marines is like a garment without buttons!" - Admiral David Porter
"Marines are about the most peculiar breed of human beings I have ever witnessed. They treat their service as if it were some kind of cult, plastering their emblem on almost everything they own, making themselves up to look like insane fanatics with haircuts ungentlemanly short, worshipping their Commandant almost as if he were a god, and making weird animal noises like a band of savages. They will fight like rabid dogs at the drop of a hat just for the sake of a little action and are the cockiest SOB's I have ever known. Most have the foulest mouths and drink well beyond a man's normal limits. But, their high spirits and sense of brotherhood set them apart and, generally speaking, the United States Marines I have come in contact with are the most professional soldiers and the finest men I have had the pleasure to meet." - Anonymous Canadian Citizen, 1969
"I want to fall on the floor laughing - imagining Hillary Clinton working well in the Senate with everybody else! Oh, give me a break. I've already joked in print that they would need to build her a private cloakroom on the Mall. This is not a woman who has any ability to deal with the mass of humanity. She is the most arrogant, the most moralistic, the most sermonizing and annoying person on earth...." - Camille Paglia
"Massive ego and narcissism may be the primary ingredients for achieving and maintaining Hollywood success, but they are also the No. 1 cause of the grandiose foibles in their storied, disastrous personal lives. The full-time job of parenting requires absolute selflessness. In contrast, the full-time job of celebrity requires absolute selfishness. The two by definition do not naturally co-exist. Yet, because of their fame, money, and social power, stars somehow think they can defy the odds and maintain a high level of professional success, and still raise healthy families in the process. No wonder so much rotten fruit is hanging from the dysfunctional celebrity family tree." - Andrew Breitbart and Mark Ebner
"The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted." - James Madison
"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." - Bertrand Russell
"Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks." - Doug Larson
"In war, as in prostitution, amateurs are often better than professionals." - Napoleon
"History does not repeat itself, but sometimes it does rhyme." - Mark Twain
?"History never repeats itself; historians repeat each other." - Oscar Wilde
"Time is measured by the quality and not the quanity of sensations it contains." - Algernon Blackwood
"The sense of belonging is one of the great gifts men get in battle." - James Michener, in Tales of the South Pacific
"No one is so foolish as to prefer war to peace: in peace children bury their fathers, while in war fathers bury their children." - Herodotus
"There is in life only one moment and in eternity only one. It is so brief that it is represented by the fleeting of a luminous mote through the thin ray of sunlight - and it is visible but a fraction of a second. The moments that preceded it have been lived, are forgotten and are without value; the moments that have not been lived have no existence and will have no value except in the moment that each shall be lived. While you are asleep you are dead; and whether you stay dead an hour or a billion years the time to you is the same." - Mark Twain
"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." - George Orwell (about interpreting history)
"We're three-quarters grizzly bear and two-thirds car wreck and descended from a stock market crash on our mother's side. You take your Germany, France and Spain, roll them all together and it won't give us room to park our cars. We're the big boys, Jack, the original, giant, economy-sized, new and improved butt kickers of all time." - P.J. O'Rourke (about America)
"I suffered privations of heat and cold in far off lands such as Virginia and Quebec, Maine and Georgia; drank tepid canteen water; ate strange food cooked in iron kettles and carried in dirty haversacks; went tentless, was rained on and slept on frozen ground; felt the blasts of bulletless muskets and heard loud noisy cannon blasts; was hollered at and demeaned by officers with no real rank; marched into battle with people who were unauthentically dressed or equipped; treated rudely by British soldier re-enactors; cursed heartily by wild-eyed Confederate re-enactors; intermingled with secret Neo-Nazis dressed in German WW2 uniforms; listened to ribald ballads sung by drunks. I reenacted wars to make the world free to re-enact other wars." - Bob Fleming
"Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. ...Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. ...Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." - Frederick Douglass
"God has left this tincture in the blood/That all men would be tyrants if they could." - Daniel Defoe
"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." - Winston Churchill
"Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us." - Leo Tolstoy
"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence. It is force." - George Washington
"History: an account mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools." - Ambrose Bierce
"What country before ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." - Thomas Jefferson
"As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular." - Oscar Wilde
"When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite." - Winston Churchill
"Men love war because it allows them to look serious. Because it is the one thing that stops women from laughing at them." - John Fowles
"The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving." - Ulysses S. Grant
"The only winner in the War of 1812 was Tchaikovsky." - Solomon Short
"With the possible exception of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture celebrating Napoleon's defeat at the gates of Moscow, name one song closely identified with the War of 1812. If you are a baby boomer - or the offspring of one who ever endured a road trip with your parents - likely you know the answer. Almost a century and a half after the historic event, country-and-western singer Johnny Horton set folks to tapping their tows to the strains of his account of the Battle of New Orleans. "In eighteen-fourteen we took a little trip," sang Johnny, "along with Colonel Jackson down the Mighty Mississipp'/we took a little bacon and we took a little beans/and we caught the bloody British near the town of New Orleans." - Walter R. Borneman, from "1812 - The War that Forged a Nation"
"After I'm dead, I'd rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one." - Cato the Elder
"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." - Winston Churchill
"Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever." - Napoleon Bonaparte
"Weasel words from mollycoddles will never do when the day demands prophetic clarity from greathearts. Manly men must emerge for this hour of trial." - Teddy Roosevelt
"We like to think we're superior to the people who, centuries ago, burned 'witches' for no better reason than a neighbor's belief that his crop failure or impotence was caused by that woman's action. But reporters are still prone to the same mental errors that caused these killings: seeing patterns where there are none, finding causes where there is only coincidence, ignoring our sources' political agendas and turning scanty evidence into panic." - John Stossel, "Give Me a Break!"
"The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one." - Wilhelm Stekel
"Somehow it is the male's duty to put the best years of his life into work he doesn't like in order that he may "retire" and enjoy himself as soon as he is too old to do so. This is more than just the system - it is the credo. It is the same thing that prompted Thoreau to say, in 1839: 'The majority of men lead lives of quiet desperation.'" - Sterling Hayden
"You are a cruel man... but go now and exert all your frightfulness, and I shall not even blame you, but praise you." King Edward I, 1298, to John FitzMarmaduke.
"No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." - Samuel Johnson
"There is a word in Old English which belongs wholly to that civilization - "dustsceawung," meaning contemplation of dust. It is a true image of the Anglo-Saxon mind, or at least an echo of that consciousness which considered transcience and loss to be part of the human estate; it was a world in which life was uncertain and the principal diety was fate or destiny or "wyrd." - Peter Ackroyd, in "Albion - The Origins of the English Imagination." (I would argue that many reenactors take part in dustsceawung. - Jonah)
"The main thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history." - Winston Churchill
"He who would foresee what is to happen should look to what has happened: for all that is has its counterpart in time past." - Machiavelli
"I have always had the feeling that on the Day of Judgment, when all things shall be known, when I and the other generations of 'Ripperologists' ask for Jack the Ripper to step forward and call out his true name, we shall turn and look with blank astonishment at one another as he does so and say 'Who?'" - Donald Rumbalow, "Jack the Ripper - the Complete Casebook"
"The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there." - L.P. Hartley
"You cannot reason people out of something to which reason hasn't brought them." - Jonathan Swift (about politics)
"No nostalgia runs deeper than that for something one has never known and now cannot obtain." - Joseph Epstein
"It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag." - Father Dennis Edward O'Brien, USMC
"I believe he (President George W. Bush) thinks this is a war that can be won, but there is no such thing anymore." - George Clooney
"America has never paid any attention to other people, so it's absurd for Bush to say that it's all in the best interests of the Iraqi people. If the United States marches into Iraq without the backing of the United Nations, that will be done entirely without the backing of the American people." - Richard Gere
(I know there are countless other examples of Hollywood types making asses out of themselves, but these two suffice as liberal commentary - or commentary on liberals - on the 2003 Iraq War.)
In light of the quotes above, this one seems especially apt:
"Can a nation remain healthy, can all nations draw together in a world whose brightest stars are film stars?" - Winston Churchill
"It is not that God should be on our side, but that we be on His." - Attributed to various U.S. presidents
"Every man deserves to be judged in the context of his times." - George Bernard Shaw
"The French couldn't hate us any more unless we helped 'em out in another war." - Will Rogers
"War Never Solved Anything... except Slavery, Communism and Fascism" - A bumper sticker
"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger." - Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials
"The North isn't a place. It's just a direction out of the South." - Roy Blount Jr.
"At any street corner, the absurd may strike a man in the face." - Albert Camus
(Were this to be worded, "At any reenactment company street corner," it would be doubly true. - Jonah)
"Much more deeply significant are the boredom with the unutterably dull peace-time occupations of most people, and the childish but universal delight men take in playing soldiers. Until they actually suffered from dirt, lousiness, fatigue, terror, disease, or wounds, most men enjoyed the last war. [WWI - Jonah.] Think of the man who has lived meagerly in a frame house on the outskirts of Somerville or Weehawken, and for ten years - except for two weeks in August - has regularly caught the eight-fifteen, spent the rest of the day floorwalking, and then caught the six-twenty back to what he came from in the morning! Think of his feelings of release and self-satisfaction when he is marching up Broadway behind the band, between files of cheering garment workers. Think of his pride in a renewed manhood, standing guard at dawn or lying behind a pile of sandbags pot-shooting his fellow man, or drinking beer, with his comrades - knowing that the world approves him as a hero, and that his family has the government to look out for it forever and ever!
But beyond the release from boredom there is the joy in uniforms which stimulates war. The instinct for fancy dress is hard to kill, as anybody knows who has been in a town where the Mystic Knights or the Shriners or the Red Indians were holding a convention; or even in Boston, when the Ancient and Honorables are blocking traffic on Beacon Hill. And, further, there is the applause of the women, - not women in general, but each man's own women, - who, as instinctively as the men like to play soldiers, have the hereditary longing to glorify the brave brutalities that their heroes write home about: "I threw a hand grenade into a dugout, and blew up six Germans. I'm going to be kissed by the general." "Isn't he wonderful? Just a big, brave boy!" - Hans Zinsser, in his book "Rats, Lice and History - A Chronicle of Pestilence and Plagues."
"Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on that strange voyage can measure the tides end hurricanes he will encounter. The Statesman who yields to war fever must realise that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events. Antiquated War Offices, weak, incompetent or arrogant Commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant Fortune, ugly surprises, awful miscalculations all take their seat at the Council Board on the morrow of a declaration of war. Always remember, however sure you are that you can easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance!" - Winston Churchill
Pretty Young Gal in Shorts: "Are you hot in all that wool?" Member of 14th Tennessee: "Some women think so."
"Movies are like writing history with lightning."- Woodrow Wilson
"When I joined the military it was illegal to be homosexual, then it became optional. I'm getting out before it becomes mandatory."- General J. Wickam, U S Army, Retired
If I was a Jewish girl in Hitler's day, I would become his girlfriend. After ten days in bed, he would come to my way of thinking.
- Yoko Ono, on how she would have prevented the Holocaust
The body of a dead enemy always smells good.
- Charles IX of France
"The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet." - Edward Thomas
"I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter."
- Winston Churchill
"I said there was but one solitary thing about the past worth remembering and that was the fact that it is past and can't be restored."
- Mark Twain
"We train hard...but every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life we would meet any new situation by reorganizing...and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing inefficiency and demoralization."
- Petronius 66 A.D.
"It's all fun and games until somebody puts out an eye."
"War does not determine who is right; war determines who is left." - Unknown
"Every man over 40 has the face he deserves."
- George Orwell
"Only the soldier is a free man, because he can look death in the face."
- Friedrich Schiller
"A clown is funny in the circus ring, but what would be the normal reaction to opening a door at midnight and finding the same clown standing there in the moonlight?
- Lon Chaney Sr.
"Gun control? It's the best thing you can do for crooks and gangsters. I want you to have nothing. If I'm a bad guy, I'm always gonna have a gun. Safety locks? You will pull the trigger with a lock on, and I'll pull the trigger. We'll see who wins."
- Mafia informant Sammy "the Bull" Gravano
"It is a curious fact that no Germanic nation in early historic times had a word properly meaning 'war.'"
- The Oxford English Dictionary
"The words 'Here you can find perfect peace' can be written only over the gates of a cemetery."
"Only the dead have seen an end to war."
"Three-quarters of a soldier's life is spent in aimlessly waiting about."
"I hate war: it ruins conversation."
- Bertrand de Bovier de Fontenelle
"A bad peace is even worse than war."
"There never was a good war or a bad peace."
- Benjamin Franklin
"An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war."
- Mark Twain
"War is the father of everything."
"Being a Daddy is priority number one. When you are old and facing oblivion in a nursing home or a hospital or on a golf course in winter, you are not going to wish you had spent more time at the office or making a sales call or watching a show. You will wish you had spent more time with your family."
- Ben Stein
"All battles are won before they are fought."
- Sun Tzu
"There ain't anything that is so interesting to look at as a place that a book has talked about."
- Mark Twain (speaking as Tom Sawyer)
"The most original genius is the most indebted man."
"In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.''
- Harry Lime (Orson Welles) in "The Third Man"
"War springs from the nobly born; famous pedigrees are the makers of war. For the perilous deeds which chiefs attempt are not to be done by the ventures of common men... No dim and lowly race, no low-born dead, no base souls are Pluto's prey, but he weaves the dooms of the mighty, and fills Phlegethon with noble shapes.
- Saxo Grammaticus, 1215 A.D.
(Which sounds like the medieval version of the Civil War saying "It's a rich man's war and a poor man's fight," or even later allusions to the "best and brightest" who conducted the war in Vietnam.)
"There is nothing so exhilarating in life as to be shot at without effect."
- Winston Churchill
"The stupidity of a stupid man is exercised in a restricted field; the stupidity of an intelligent man has a much wider diffusion, and a far greater effect, aided as it is by the element of surprise."
- Peter Ustinov
"When soldiers deal with one another, all goes well. But as soon as the diplomats step in the result is unadulterated stupidity."
- Czar Alexander II
"Generals cannot be trusted with anything, not even with war."
- Georges Clemenceau
"Understanding the past requires pretending that you don't know the present."
- Paul Fussell
"A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic."
- Joseph Stalin
"Let he who laughs last, laugh best."
- Old proverb
"To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain, and a positive crime in the statesman." - George Santayana
"Women encourage killers. They do it by falling in love with warriors and heroes. Men know it and respond with enthusiasm. The Crusaders marched off to war with ladies favors in their helmets. The heroes sliced up adults and baked infants on spits, all the while thinking of how the damsels back home would admire their bravery."
- Howard Bloom
"History is bunk."
- Henry Ford
"History is a pack of lies about events that never happened told by people who weren't there." - George Santayana
"The object of war is to make the other poor bastard die for what he believes in."
- General George Patton
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."
- Groucho Marx
"I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"There is no monument dedicated to the memory of a committee."
- Lester J. Pourciau
"Don't pay any attention to what the critics say. No statue has ever been erected over a critic."
- Jean Sibelius
"War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man 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
"I would think that if you understood what sex education is, you would get down on your knees and worship a condom."
"People who think like us may be in the minority, but we're the smart ones. ... [The Ten Commandments] are a little out of date. If you're only going to have ten rules, I don't know if [prohibiting] adultery should be one of them."
- Ted Turner
(Yes, I realize these aren't at quite the same timeless level as the others, but sometimes a quote brilliantly describes not only the speaker, but an entire mindset shared by many people. These are husband and wife examples; while I can't understand why someone would want to marry Jane Fonda I can certainly understand why her husband would be promoting adultery. )
"The Almighty has no attribute that can take sides with the slaveholder."
From an abolition banner
"Nonviolence is the most potent technique for oppressed people. Unearned suffering is redemptive."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
"It's futile to talk too much about the past. It's like trying to make birth control retroactive."
- Charles E. Wilson
"The next person who mentions Davy Crockett to me gets a Davy Crockett flintlock over his head."
- A department store buyer in the 50's
"Do nothing and hope the enemy fades away."
- Fabius Maximus (Roman commander who outlasted Hannibal in Italy)
"Lay low and say nuffin'."
- Br'er Rabbit
"At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question."
- George Orwell
"Sometimes I think war is God's way of teaching us geography."
"To my mind to kill in war is not a whit better than to commit ordinary murder."
- Albert Einstein
"The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in time of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality."
-- Dante, The Inferno (I hope Swiss watches are adjusted for warm temperatures.)
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."
- Albert Einstein
"After the game, the king and pawn go into the same box."
- Italian Proverb
"Du sublime au ridicule, il n'y a qu'un pas." ("From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step.")
-- Napoleon I
"To Penrod, school was merely a state of confinement, envenomed by mathematics. For interminable periods he was forced to listen to information concerning matters about which he had no curosity whatever; and he had to read over and over the dullest passages in books that bored him into stupors, while always there overhung the preposterous task of improvising plausible evasions to conceal the fact that he did not know what he had no wish to know. Likewise, he must always be prepared to avoid incriminating replies to questions that he felt nobody had a real and natural right to ask him."
"One of the hardest conditions of boyhood is the almost continuous strain put upon the powers of invention by the constant and harassing necessity for explanations for every natural act."
"The only safe male rebuke to a scornful female is to stay away from her - especially if that is what she desires."
"This is a boy's lot: anything he does, anything whatever, may afterward turn out to have been a crime -- he never knows. And punishment and clemency are alike inexplicable."
- Booth Tarkington, in his book "Penrod"
Boys and Girls,
And Women, that would groan to see a child
Pull off an insect's leg, all read of war,
The best amusement of our evening's meal;
As if the soldier died without a wound;
As if the fibres of this godlike frame
Were gored without a pang; as if the wretch,
Who fell in battle, doing bloody deeds,
Passed off to heaven, translated and not killed...
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"To a Foreigner, a Yankee is an American. To a Southerner in the United States, a Yankee is a Northerner. To a Northerner, a Yankee lives in New England. Here in New England, a Yankee is someone from Vermont. To a Vermonter, a Yankee is someone who still uses an outhouse. I'll stop here."
- Kenneth O'Neill in a letter to the New York Times Magazine
"It is the inevitable collision between the twentieth and nineteenth centuries that occurs, and the resulting tension from that collision, that makes this fun!"
Kim Allen Scott's friend Tucker, about reenacting
"To be a Virginian either by birth, marriage, adoption or even on one's mother's side, is an introduction to any state in the Union, a passport to any foreign country and a benediction from the Almighty God."
- from an old sampler
"The President eats dirt and excrement for his daily meals, likes it and tries to force it on The States."
Walt Whitman, about Franklin Pierce
At the conclusion of the American Revolution, it is said that Benjamin Franklin, then the American Ambassador to France, dined with the English Ambassador and the French Minister at Versailles and that during the meal a toast was called for. The British Minister began with, "George the Third, who, like the Sun in its meridian spreads a lustre throughout and enlightens the world..." The French Minister followed with: "The illustrious Louis XVI, who, like the Moon, sheds its mild and benignant rays on, and influences the globe..." Our Franklin then began his toast with, "George Washington, Commander of the American Armies, who like Joshua of old, commanded the Sun and the Moon to stand still, and they obeyed him..."
"We will all be better citizens when the voting records of our Congressmen are followed as carefully as scores of pro-football games."
"If I were a 13-year-old and I wanted to create subversive art, I wouldn't go out and buy an electric guitar. I'd get myself a personal computer."
-Thomas Dolby as quoted in the Los Angeles Times, 6/6/94
"History is one damn thing after another." - H.A.L. Fisher
"Your home is our home!" - Motto of the US Regulars while serving in the South
"As much valour is to be found in feasting as in fighting, and some of our city captains and carpet knights will make this good, and prove it."
- Robert Burton
"The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice."
- Mark Twain
"History is not what you think. It is what you can remember."
- Sellar and Yeatman, 1066 and All That
"Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils."
- Hector Berlioz
"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.
Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you."
- Carl Sandburg
"You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war."
- Albert Einstein
"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
- Albert Einstein
"This is the sort of English up with which I will not put."
- Winston Churchill
"Jefferson Davis - may he be set afloat in an open boat without compass or rudder, may that boat and contents be swallowed by a shark, and the shark swallowed by a whale, the whale in the devil's belly, and the devil in Hell, the door locked and the key lost; and further, may he be chained in the southwest corner of Hell, and a northeast wind blow ashes in his eyes to all eternity."
- a "toast of the Michigan troops," 1862
"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable an ignoreable war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."
- Albert Einstein
"Who knows but again the old flags, ragged and torn, snapping in the wind, may face each other and flutter, pursuing and pursued, while the cries of victory fill a summer day? And after the battle, then the slain and wounded will arise, and all will meet together under the two flags, all sound and well, and there will be talking and laughter and cheers, and all will say: Did it not seem real? Was it not as in the old days?"
- Barry Benson, a Confederate veteran writing in 1880
(Click here to see the update of this visionary quote.)
"Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing things historians usually record, while on the banks unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs and write poetry. The story of civilization is what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river."
- Will Durant
"(George) Washington felt that it was the Virginia institution that would have in the end to give way. 'I clearly foresee,' he told an English caller, 'that nothing but the rooting out of slavery can perpetuate the existence of our union by consolidating it in a common bond of principle.' To (Edmund) Randolph, he revealed a conclusion that tore at his most deeply seated habits and emotions. He stated that should the Union separate between North and South, 'he had made up his mind to move and be of the northern.'"
(From James Thomas Flexner's book Washington, the Indispensable Man)
"I am not worth purchasing, but such as I am, the King of Great Britain is not rich enough to do it."
- General Joseph Reed (To the U.S. Congress, Aug. 11, 1778, while reporting an attempt by the British to bribe him).
"Fight on, my men," sayes Sir Andrew Bartton,
"I am hurt but I am not slain;
I'll lay me downe and bleed a while
And then I'll rise and fight againe."
Sir Andrew Bartton, a Scots ballad
For some unforgettable quotes from less celebrated men, click here.