The Wisdom of Past Presidents: in Celebration of Presidents’ Day

Presidents’ Day is celebrated on the third Monday in February. This year (2024), it falls on February 19th. The original intent in 1885 was to honor the birthday of George Washington, the first U.S. President. It was expanded to include all of the occupants of the Oval Office in 1971.

Those who were elected to be servant leaders to represent the entire country and all those who live here have had words of wisdom to share. Regardless of which side of the political aisle you find yourself on, these men may inspire you. There will come a time when we will be able to change the word from ‘men’ to ‘people.’

These missives from former Presidents could fill a motivational class in which you are taught ways to keep focus, be a lifelong learner, live in integrity, pick yourself up if you fall, take a stand and act responsibly.

“The harder the conflict, the greater the triumph.” ― George Washington

“Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom.” ― Thomas Jefferson

“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” ― James Madiso

“Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.” ― John Quincy Adams

“It’s easier to do a job right, than to explain why you didn’t.” ― Martin Van Buren

“There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power.” ― William Henry Harrison

“Leave nothing for tomorrow which can be done today.” ― Abraham Lincoln

“If wrinkles must be written on our brow, let them not be written on our heart. The spirit should never grow old.” ― James Garfield

“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

“Be patient and calm; no one can catch a fish with anger.” ― Herbert Hoover

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight- it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

“It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” ― Harry S. Truman

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” ― John F. Kennedy

“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.” ― Jimmy Carter

“Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God.” ― Ronald Reagan

“A volunteer is a person who can see what others cannot see, who can feel what most do not feel. Often, such gifted persons do not think of themselves as volunteers, but as citizens – citizens in the fullest sense: partners in civilization.” ― George H.W. Bush

“We all do better when we work together. Our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more.” ― Bill Clinton

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek” – Barack Obama

Most of the songs that are directed toward, or reference Presidents are primarily protest anthems. One that honors two Presidents (and a Civil Rights leader) who met a pre-mature death is Abraham, Martin, and John by Dion.

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