Inspiration from America’s Great Leaders

Posted on February 19, 2019 by Justin Serrano

If you’re like me, you may not know much about the history of this federal holiday. Never fear! We’re here to help you.

Presidents Day originally began as a celebration of George Washington’s birthday after his death in 1799. As a beloved leader of our nation, Americans took the time to pause and reflect on his life and the legacy he left behind. It was simply known as George Washington’s birthday, and it was actually celebrated on his birthday (Feb. 22). However, it didn’t become a federal holiday until the late 1870s and was actually signed into law by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879.

Initially, this applied only to the District of Columbia, but expanded to the entire country in 1885. In 1971, President Nixon signed an executive order that combined the celebration of Washington’s birthday with the celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (Feb. 12), but the name of the holiday remained Washington’s Birthday. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that most Americans came to call the holiday Presidents Day and took until the early 2000s for the name to be changed on most calendars. 

Today, Presidents Day largely celebrates the accomplishments of the Presidents of the United States as a whole, with an emphasis on Washington and Lincoln. Of course, as a federal holiday it creates a three-day weekend, which leads to the marketing of sales in our nation. Since we don’t have any sales to offer, we’d like to offer these inspirational quotes from some of America’s presidents. We hope you enjoy them!



“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head—that’s assault, not leadership.” 

“May we grow in strength, without pride of self. May we, in our dealings with all peoples of the earth, ever speak truth and serve justice… May the light of freedom, coming to all darkened lands, flame brightly—until at last the darkness is no more.”



“Peace, above all things, is to be desired, but blood must sometimes be spilled to obtain it on equable and lasting terms.”



“For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead.”

“Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.”



“Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

“Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong.”

“The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.”

“I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise of not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.”



“Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

“There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”

“I’m convinced, more than ever, that man finds liberation only when he binds himself to God and commits himself to his fellow man.”



“Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.”

“If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships—the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, and work together, in the same world, at peace.”



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“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again… who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails daring greatly.”



“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”

“It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace. When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.”



“Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.” 

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”

“Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone, and let your hand give in proportion to your purse.”

“Truth will ultimately prevail where there are pains taken to bring it to light.”



“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

“Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one’s own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.”



“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.”



“War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.”



“I like a colorful sock. I’m a sock man.”


The last quote is in honor of Harvest’s fearless leader, Pastor Jason Dickenson.


Quotes from and Great Quotes from Great Leaders: Words from the Leaders Who Shaped the World by Peggy Anderson



Love Jesus. Love each other. Love your city.
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