Dead Presidents

Historical facts, thoughts, ramblings and collections on the Presidency and about the Presidents of the United States.

By Anthony Bergen
Posts tagged "Quotes"

After experiencing the beauty of traveling throughout this region, where men and women work and raise their families, where children play and the elderly dream, I now find myself here, in this place, able to say only one thing: War is madness.

Whereas God carries forward the work of creation, and we men and women are called to participate in his work, war destroys. It also runs the most beautiful work of his hands: human beings. War ruins everything, even the bonds between brothers. War is irrational; it’s only plan is to bring destruction; it seeks to grow by destroying.

Greed, intolerance, the lust for power — these motives underlie the decision to go to war, and they are too often justified by an ideology; but first there is a distorted passion or impulse. Ideology is presented as a justification and when there is no ideology, there is the response of Cain: ‘What does it matter to me? Am I my brother’s keeper?’ War does not look directly at anyone, be they elderly, children, mothers, fathers. ‘What does it matter to me?’

Above the entrance to this cemetery, there hangs in the air those ironic words of war, ‘What does it matter to me?’ Each one of the dead buried here had their owns plans, their own dreams, but their lives were cut short. Humanity said, ‘What does it matter to me?’

Even today, after the second failure of another world war, perhaps one can speak of a third war, one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction. In all honesty, the front page of newspapers ought to carry the headline, ‘What does it matter to me?’ Cain would say, ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’…

…Here lie many victims. Today, we remember them. There are tears, there is sadness. From this place we remember all the victims of every war.

Today, too, the victims are many. How is this possible? It is so because in today’s world, behind the scenes, there are interests, geopolitical strategies, lust for money and power, and there is the manufacture and sale of arms, which seem to be so important!

And these plotters of terrorism, these schemers of conflicts, just like arms dealers, have engraved in their hearts, ‘What does it matter to me?’ It is the task of the wise to recognize errors, to feel pain, to repent, to beg for pardon and to cry.

With this ‘What does it matter to me?’ in their hearts, the merchants of war perhaps have made a great deal of money. but their corrupted hearts have lost the capacity to cry. That ‘What does it matter to me?’ prevents the tears. Cain did not cry. The shadow of Cain hangs over us today in this cemetery. It is seen here. It is seen from 1914 right up to our own time. It is seen even in the present.

With the heart of a son, a brother, a father, I ask each of you, indeed for all of us, to have a conversion of heart; to move on from ‘What does it matter to me?’, to tears: for each one of the fallen of this ‘senseless massacre’, for all the victims of the mindless wars, in every age.

Humanity needs to weep, and this is the time to weep.

Pope Francis, homily at Sacrario Militare di Redipuglia, Redipuglia, Italy, September 13, 2014.

(I just needed to post this again.)

What a chimera then is man! What a novelty! What a monster, what a chaos, what a contradiction, what a prodigy! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, depository of truth, a sink of uncertainty and error — the glory and the shame of the universe.
Blaise Pascal, Pensées (1670)
Asker Anonymous Asks:
I don't understand how you can be so knowledgeable about so many things, even things like the Koran, with your limited schooling.
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Paucis opus est litteris ad bonam mentem.

The ancient books are for authors; the new ones, for readers.
Montesquieu, Pensées et Fragments
That speech he made out there was better than anything Franklin Roosevelt said at his best — it was better than Lincoln. I think — really think — that he is a man of destiny.
Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, on John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961
It is absurd to call him [Abraham Lincoln] a modest man. No great man was ever modest.
John Hay, Abraham Lincoln’s private secretary, to William H. Herndon, Lincoln’s former law partner
Begin with the end in mind, and die empty.
Aeneas Williams, in his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech, Fawcett Stadium, Canton, Ohio, August 2, 2014
Did you ever think that making a speech on economics is a lot like pissing down your leg? It seems hot to you, but it never does to anyone else.
Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) to economist John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006)
Say to Mr. Lincoln from me that I shall at any time be pleased to receive proposals for peace on the basis of our [Confederate] Independence. It will be useless to approach me with any other.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis, to Northern emissaries during the Civil War, July 1864.
He was not executive in his talents — not original, not firm, not a moral force. He leaned on others — could not face a frowning world; his habits suffered from Washington life. His course at various times when trouble came betrayed weakness.
Rutherford B. Hayes, on his successor, James Garfield, 1883.
He has done more than any other President to degrade the character of Cabinet officers by choosing them on the model of the military staff, because of their pleasant personal relation to him and not because of their national reputation and the public needs…His imperturbability is amazing. I am in doubt whether to call it greatness or stupidity.
James Garfield, criticizing Ulysses S. Grant for his poor judgment of the quality of many of the officials of his Administration which was ravaged by scandals despite President Grant’s personal honesty and lack of complicity, 1874.
The next man…was ‘Ole Rough ‘n’ Ready,’ old Zack Taylor, the hero of Buena Vista, and he was another of those damn fool generals that didn’t know anything about politics, nothing at all in any way, shape or form, and so Daniel Webster, who was Secretary of State, and Henry Clay ran things, and after sixteen months in office, on July 4, 1850, he went to an Independence Day celebration, and they say he ate too much watermelon and died.
Harry Truman, on Zachary Taylor, giving his candid opinion on some of his Presidential predecessors, to Merle Miller
Whatever may have been the effect of Mr. Buchanan’s elevation to the Presidency and of the possession of its overshadowing powers upon himself he was, assuredly, before that occurrence, a cautious, circumspect, and sagacious man.
Martin Van Buren, contrasting James Buchanan’s impressive early political career with his lackluster performance as President