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US Peace Memorial Foundation



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(Scroll down to see quotes under consideration)


The Foundation honors Americans who stand for peace by publishing the US Peace Registry, awarding the annual US Peace Prize, and planning for the US Peace Memorial in Washington, D.C. The first two projects are ongoing and well-developed. It is now time to flesh out the concept of the memorial as a permanent stone national monument engraved with quotes from well-known Americans.

The proposed national monument will feature short, poignant, and memorable statements made by U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are easily recognized by virtue of their prominent leadership roles, cultural contributions, and historical importance. Founding Members are invited to suggest well-referenced quotations for consideration and, as a group, help make decisions about quotes that will be chiseled into the monument and at what level or height on the structure. The selections will also be included with complete references on our website, at electronic kiosks located all around the US Peace Memorial, on social media, and in our publications.

The Foundation’s intention is to present inspirational and nonpartisan quotes to demonstrate that peace has been a concern of our country’s leaders and public figures going all the way back to our nation’s formation. Peace is not a concern only in times of war, but at all times, and our thoughts about it should influence U.S. foreign policy and how we choose to spend our tax dollars.

When selecting a quotation, we are not judging or endorsing the entire life history of the author or the consistency and goodness of their behavior over a lifetime. We know that humans are flawed and that all will have made mistakes, whether or not they acknowledge and apologize for them. However, when Americans realize that leaders from a variety of backgrounds have articulated strong antiwar statements, our culture can change. More people will feel comfortable speaking out, and the government will be challenged more frequently when it threatens, invades, or occupies other countries.

The Foundation is now accepting suggestions and comments. Once we have the first fifty viable quotations by famous Americans, a formal selection and prioritization process will be developed. If you wish to help our organization make these and other crucial decisions and still need to become a Member, please join us at


The quotations listed below have undergone initial reference verification and are under Founding Member review and comment via social media. We look forward to expanding the collection and including them here. Please send your ideas for antiwar quotations by famous Americans to

1.  War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.”

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963).


Kennedy, John F.  “Letter to a Navy friend.”  A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House.  Schlesinger, Arthur M.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965.  88.  Print.


2.  We must devise a system in which Peace is more rewarding than War.”

Margaret Mead (1901-1978).


Gioseffi, Daniela.  Women on War: Essential Voices for the Nuclear Age.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 1988.  Print.


3.  It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968).


King, Martin Luther, Jr.  “Acceptance Speech, Nobel Prize for Peace 1964.” Nobel Lectures Including Presentation Speeches and Laureates' Biographies Peace.  Vol. 3. Ed. Frederick W. Haberman, Amsterdam: Elsevier Publishing, 1972.  Print.


4.  The real and lasting victories are those of peace, and not of war.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882).


Emerson, Ralph W.  The Conduct of Life: Nine Essays on Fate, Power, Wealth, Culture, Worship, Etc.  New York: Scott-Thaw Co, 1903.  225.  Print.


5.  [t]here was never a good War, or a bad Peace.”

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790).


Franklin, Benjamin, and Ralph Ketcham.  The Political Thought of Benjamin Franklin.  Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub, 2003.  Print.


6.  I believe that the killing of human beings in a war is no better than common murder.”

Albert Einstein (1879-1955).


Einstein, Albert, and Alice Calaprice.  The Ultimate Quotable Einstein.  Princeton, N.J: Princeton UP, 2011.  258.  Print.


7.  Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought.”

Helen Keller (1880-1968).


Keller, Helen, and Philip S. Foner.  Helen Keller, Her Socialist Years: Writings and Speeches.  New York: International Publishers, 1967.  Print.


8.  Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all.”

George Washington (1732-1799).


Washington, George.  “Farewell Address.” A Patriot's Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories, and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love.  Ed. Caroline Kennedy.  New York: Hyperion, 2003.  34-40.  Print.


9.  I am an anti-imperialist.  I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.”

Mark Twain, pseudonym for Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910).


Twain, Mark, and Jim Zwick.  Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire: Anti-imperialist Writings on the Philippine-American War. Syracuse, N.Y: Syracuse UP, 1992.  Print.


10.  I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969).


Eisenhower, Dwight D.  Canadian Club.  Ottawa, Canada.  Jan. 1946.  Address.


11.  We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children.”

Jimmy Carter (1924-  ).


Carter, Jimmy.  “Nobel Lecture.”  Peace 2001-2005.  Eds. Abrams Irwin and Scott London.  Singapore: World Scientific, 2009.  52-61.  Print.


12.  Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961).


Hemingway, Ernest.  “Introduction.”  Treasury for the Free World,  Ed. Ben Raeburn.  New York: Arco, 1946.  xiii-xv.  Print.


13.  I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.”

George S. McGovern (1922-2012).


Anson, Robert S.  McGovern: A Biography.  New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1972.  179.   Print.


14.  How can you make a war on terror, if war itself is terrorism?”

Howard Zinn (1922-2010).


Zinn, Howard.  “The Uses of History and the War on Terrorism.”  Speech given in Madison, WI. 5 Oct. 2006.  Posted in The Progressive.  17 Dec. 2006.


15.  No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

James Madison (1751-1836).


Madison, James.  Letters and Other Writings of James Madison: Fourth President of the United States. Vol. 4.  Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1865.  491.  Print.


16.  … all war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal, ...”

John Steinbeck (1902-1968).


Steinbeck, John.  Once There Was a War.  New York, London: Viking Press, 1958.  9.  Print.


17.  No, I am not going 10,000 miles to help murder kill and burn other people to simply help continue the domination of white slavemasters over dark people ...

Muhammad Ali (1942-2016).


Taylor, Clyde.  Vietnam and Black America: An Anthology of Protest and Resistance.  Garden City, N.Y: Anchor Press, 1973.  Print.


18.  More than just an end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all wars - yes, an end to this brutal, inhuman and thoroughly impractical method of settling differences between governments.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945).


Roosevelt, Franklin D.  “[Undelivered] Address written for Jefferson Day.”  Read by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., 13 April 1945.  Radio broadcast.


19.  A people free to choose will always choose peace.”

Ronald Reagan (1911-2004).


Anderson, Martin, and Annelise G. Anderson.  Reagan's Secret War: The Untold Story of His Fight to Save the World from Nuclear Disaster.  New York: Crown Publishers, 2009.  386.  Print.


20.  ... he who is the author of a war, lets loose the whole contagion of hell, and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.”

Thomas Paine (1737-1809).


Paine, Thomas.  Collected Writings.  New York: Library of America, 1995.  165.  Print.


21.  From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.”

Chief Joseph, Thunder Traveling to the Loftier Mountain Heights (1840-1904).


Brown, Mark H.  The Flight of the Nez Perce.  Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1971.  407.  Print.


22.  ... as the War Office of the United States was established in a time of peace, it is equally reasonable that a Peace Office should be established in a time of war.”

Benjamin Rush (1746-1813).


Rush, Benjamin.  A plan of a Peace-Office for the United States.  Essays, Literary, Moral and Philosophical, 2nd Ed.  Philadelphia: Thomas and William Bradford, 1806.  183.  Print.


23.  Peace with all nations, and the right which that gives us with respect to all nations, are our object.”

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826).


Jefferson, Thomas.  “Letter to Mr. Dumas, March 24, 1793.”  The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, ed. H. A. Washington, vol. 3, 535.  Print.



Check back often.  As new quotations are referenced, they will be added to this page and posted on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for review. We invite our Founding Members to add their comments on these social media sites. Let us know which ones are your favorites – and share with us any great quotes we may have overlooked.


*Note regarding references and context: We recognize the risk of not taking history and context into account when reviewing potential quotations. Without critical analysis, errors in selection could be made. Before any quotation is finalized for inclusion on the national monument, it will be thoroughly researched and vetted. The text will be referenced in Modern Language Association (MLA) citation style, as is standard practice for speeches, letters, and biographical works. Prior to selection for placement on the US Peace Memorial, our Volunteer Research Librarian(s) will verify the authenticity of the quotation by locating it in a primary source. Electronic sources will be verified twice, with one source being an original print source whenever possible.



US Peace Memorial Foundation, Inc. is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) public charity.

Donations to the Foundation are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.




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