77 Veterans Day Quotes To Honor Every Kind Of Veteran You Know Or Meet

Female veteran hugging her son in airport — Veterans Day quotes.
Mark Edward Atkinson/Tracey Lee/Getty Images

Most people know that World War I officially ended on June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. A lesser-known fact? The fighting actually ceased seven months earlier when the Allied nations and Germany reached an armistice — a temporary stopping of open acts of warfare by agreement between the opponents. This armistice went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. And so, in November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, marking the moment with what can be considered the first of many Veterans Day quotes to come: “To us, in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because the thing from which it was freed us and because of the opportunity it has given American to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” Over time, the name of the holiday changed, and Veterans Day was born. The patriotic sentiment has remained the same, though.

For people who don’t know a veteran, that early November holiday is mostly just a three-day weekend and last chance to grill out before the weather turns your backyard into a frozen tundra. Those people will often find people trying to shame them for having a good time. But, if you ask most veterans for their opinions, they’ll only shame you for not sharing your beer and burgers. The bottom line? People express appreciation in many ways. Let them.

Below, you’ll find a collection of quotes you can share in honoring veterans, as well as some suggestions on how to thank a veteran face-to-face.

Veterans Day Quotes

These Veterans Day quotes are often used to honor our military members. Use them in cards or on social, if you want.

  1. “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” — Elmer Davis
  2. “Those that die for a good cause hover as a cloud of witnesses over the nation.” — Henry Ward Beecher
  3. “My heroes are those who risk their lives every day to protect our world and make it a better place — police, firefighters, and members of our armed forces.” — Sidney Sheldon
  4. “The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom, courage.” — Thucydides
  5. “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” — G.K. Chesterton
  6. “A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.” — Hercules
  7. “Only our individual faith in freedom can keep us free.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
  8. “The brave die never, though they sleep in dust: Their courage nerves a thousand living men.” — Minot J. Savage
  9. “I’ve lived the literal meaning of the ‘land of the free’ and ‘home of the brave.’ It’s not corny for me. I feel it in my heart. I feel it in my chest.” — Chris Kyle
  10. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” — John F. Kennedy
  11. “On this Veterans Day, let us remember the service of our veterans, and let us renew our national promise to fulfill our sacred obligations to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed so much so that we can live free.” — Dan Lipinski
  12. “We don’t know them all, but we owe them all.” — Unknown
  13. “The only easy day was yesterday.” — US Navy SEALs
  14. “Better than honor and glory, and History’s iron pen, was the thought of duty done and the love of his fellow men.” — Richard Watson Gilder
  15. “I have long believed that sacrifice is the pinnacle of patriotism.” — Bob Riley
  16. “Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys. Look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death!” — Sun Tzu
  17. “It’s about how we treat our veterans every single day of the year. It’s about making sure they have the care they need and the benefits that they’ve earned when they come home. It’s about serving all of you as well as you’ve served the United States of America.” — Barack Obama
  18. “Duty, honor, country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.” — Douglas MacArthur
  19. “This country has not seen and probably will never know the true level of sacrifice of our veterans.” — Thomas M. Smith
  20. “The patriot’s blood is the seed of freedom’s tree.” — Thomas Campbell
  21. “American without her soldiers would be like God without his angels.” — Claudia Pemberton
  22. “Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul.” — Michel de Montaigne
  23. “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.” — Lee Greenwood
  24. “On thy grave, the rain shall fall from the eyes of a mighty nation!” — Thomas William Parsons
  25. “Here, men endured that a nation might live.” — Herbert Hoover
  26. “There is nothing nobler than risking your life for your country.” — Nick Lampson
  27. “We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, though it never was. Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause.” — Ronald Reagan
  28. “It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.” — Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.
  29. “A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom.” — Bob Dylan
  30. “How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” — Maya Angelou
  31. “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” — Benjamin Disraeli
  32. “Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
  33. “Their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored.” — Daniel Webster
  34. “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” — Joseph Campbell
  35. “The thing we all had in common wasn’t muscle; it was the will to do whatever it takes.” — Chris Kyle
  36. “Spending time with America’s soldiers is always inspiring.” — John Boehner
  37. “America’s veterans have served their country with the belief that democracy and freedom are ideals to be upheld around the world.” — John Doolittle
  38. “Honoring the sacrifices many have made for our country in the name of freedom and democracy is the very foundation of Veterans Day.” — Charles B. Rangel
  39. “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” — Arthur Ashe
  40. “Heroism doesn’t always happen in a burst of glory. Sometimes small triumphs and large hearts change the course of history.” — Mary Roach
  41. “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” — Billy Graham
  42. “Tragically, the effort to make America and the world safer and to defend freedom around the world is not without an enormous cost to this Nation in terms primarily of lost lives and those who bear the scars and the wounds of war, and their families who must bear these losses.” — John Warner
  43. “Soldiers, when committed to a task, can’t compromise. It’s unrelenting devotion to the standards of duty and courage, absolute loyalty to others, not letting the task go until it’s done.” — John Keegan
  44. “Live as brave men; and if fortune is adverse, front its blows with brave hearts.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero
  45. “We must never forget why we have, and why we need our military. Our armed forces exist solely to ensure our nation is safe, so that each and every one of us can sleep soundly at night, knowing we have ‘guardians at the gate.'” — Allen West
  46. “I think there is one higher office than President, and I would call that patriot.” — Gary Hart
  47. “Our veterans accepted the responsibility to defend America and uphold our values when duty called.” — Bill Shuster
  48. “The only thing that makes battle psychologically tolerable is the brotherhood among soldiers. You need each other to get by.” — Sebastian Junger
  49. “Whatever gains are secured, it is loss the veterans remember most keenly. Only a fool or a fraud sentimentalizes the merciless reality of war.” — John McCain
  50. “Brave men rejoice in adversity, just as brave soldiers triumph in war.” — Lucius Annaeus Seneca
  51. “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” — Nathan Hale
  52. “The veterans of our military services have put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we enjoy. They have dedicated their lives to their country and deserve to be recognized for their commitment.” — Judd Gregg
  53. “Without heroes, we are all plain people, and don’t know how far we can go.” — Bernard Malamud
  54. “Fortune favors the brave.” — Terence
  55. “Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.” — Abraham Lincoln
  56. “The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.” — Patrick Henry
  57. “While only one day of the year is dedicated to honoring our veterans, Americans must never forget the sacrifices that many of our fellow countrymen have made to defend our country and protect our freedoms.” — Randy Neugebauer
  58. “The nicest veterans… the kindest and funniest ones, the ones who hated war the most, were the ones who’d really fought.” — Kurt Vonnegut
  59. “Once let the Black man get upon his person the brass letters, U.S.; let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.” — Frederick Douglass
  60. “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” — Thomas Paine
  61. “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” — Winston Churchill

How to Thank a Veteran

Thanking a proud veteran on Veterans Day can undoubtedly make them feel good, but it’s important to note that not all veterans feel comfortable being thanked. We like to keep in mind what José Narosky once said: “In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” Some vets struggle with their time in service and don’t necessarily feel they deserve that thank you. Many just have a strong desire not to answer any questions or talk further about their time in the military. And, for a long time, it wasn’t uncommon for people to spend Veterans Day asking vets loaded, uncomfortable questions. (We’d like to think we all know better now. But, just in case: Don’t ask a veteran if they killed anyone or how many people they killed.)

The truth is that some veterans prefer not to be in the spotlight on Veterans Day and, if they must go out, they prefer to fly under the radar. That’s hard for us to imagine, right? If we saved a cat from a tree or won some basic award even, we’d want the recognition. And we’ve been trained, almost guilted, into believing that the only true way to spend Veterans Day is going door-to-door and saying “thanks” to everyone you know who has ever served in the military. But be mindful that, just as everyone shows appreciation differently, people have different perspectives on their time in the service and getting attention for it.

So, tread lightly. What you say depends on who you’re addressing, but here are a few ideas on how to thank a veteran respectfully.

If you’re close…

If you’re close friends, married, or the daughter/son of a veteran, you know their comfort level with being thanked. Maybe your best approach is simply to post something on social media (read further down), where they never show up, rather than actually saying something in person. If, however, your closeness allows you to know what’s safe to say — or what might make them uncomfortable — there are some solid options. Some don’t even require using the words “service” or “veteran.” If you’re close to your veteran, consider saying:

  • “I’m glad you made it home to me.”
  • “I wanted you to know I’m proud to have a friend like you. Happy Veterans Day.”
  • “Happy Veteran’s Day to a great soldier/marine/seaman/airman and phenomenal parent/partner/relative/bestie. I’m doubly proud of you and honored to know you. Thank you for your service.”
  • “Happy Veterans Day to my favorite veteran.”
  • “I won’t thank you because I know it makes you uncomfortable. Just know I love you and I’m proud of you every day.”

If you know them…

You probably know a few vets at varying degrees. What do you say to the proud marine at church? How do you honor your great-great-uncle, who you talk to only on holidays? And how can you possibly be cool, kind, and grateful to that high school friend you barely see anymore? The key is to keep it short but sincere. Depending on the person, you can even be a little funny.

  • “Happy Veterans Day! Just wanted you to know I’m thinking of you, proud of you, and grateful for your service.”
  • “I’m grilling burgers and drinking beer ‘in your honor.’ You ought to come over. We can talk or not talk about your service.”
  • “I left your favorite beer on your stoop so you can hide from my pride in peace.”
  • “Happy Veterans Day. Thank you for your service. I’m always here to talk or not talk.”

If they’re strangers…

If they’re strangers, you probably only know they’re vets because they’re rocking a shirt with the Marines emblem on it or that “veteran” baseball cap — in which case you can probably assume they’re comfortable with being approached about their service. Still, since you don’t know them, keeping your sentiments short shows your respect their patriotism and their time.

  • “Happy Veterans Day, and thank you for your service.”

If you’re posting on social media…

First, know that you don’t have to post on social media. Posting about Veterans Day on social media does not make you a more patriotic or better person. As a matter of fact, if the only time you ever talk about veteran affairs is on Veterans Day, your post is going to seem insincere. But, if you still feel called to post on social media for personal or political reasons, we thought we’d share a few ways to say “thank you” with personality.

  • “For all my veteran friends and family, thank you for your courage and sacrifice.”
  • “To all who have served and continue to serve… Happy Veterans Day! And thank you!”
  • “To all the veterans in my life, I might be grilling and drinking, but I’m still aware of and thankful for your service. Happy Veterans Day. (Come eat with us.)”
  • “Happy Veterans Day! I’d thank each of you for your service every day, but I know it’d make you uncomfortable.”
  • “This Veterans Day, let’s take time to remember that not all vets come back swelling with pride, come back unscathed, or come back at all. We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude and respect to all military and military families.”
  • “This Veterans Day, let’s thank our veterans by looking inward. The choices we make as civilians when we take to the polls for elections big and small have an impact on our vets. Think about their sacrifice and vote for people who will take care of our military members both at home and abroad, active and retired.”