(It's Veterans Day, so you might also want to check out 150 Companies (at Least) Giving Free Stuff to Veterans Today.)
I'm a veteran of the U.S. Army. My military career wasn't especially exciting or unusual, but I later wrote books about the military and covered the Iraq War and veterans' issues for The Washington Post and the military newspaper Stars and Stripes. It's these experiences that give me some of my most treasured insights into the men and women of the U.S. armed forces.
My 2008 book, In a Time of War, involved 600 interviews with soldiers and their families. I always remember a story I heard about one lieutenant who took over his first platoon just hours before he had to lead them in the invasion of Iraq:
"I don't know what awaits us on the other side of that berm," 22-year-old Joe DaSilva told his troops. "But I'll tell you this. If I have to give my life for any of you I will do it in a heartbeat."
With that standard in mind--and with a great thank you to the men and women who wear our nation's uniform--here are 17 quotes about military leadership to inspire you on this important day.
1. "The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office."
--General Dwight D. Eisenhower
2. "Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: 'I served in the United States Navy."
--President John F. Kennedy
3. "I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion."
--Alexander the Great
4. "I can't expect loyalty from the army if I do not give it."
--General George C. Marshall
5. "The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools."
--Thucydides, Greek historian
6. "The most important thing I learned is that soldiers watch what their leaders do. You can give them classes and lecture them forever, but it is your personal example they will follow."
- General Colin Powell
7. "There's no quitting, I can't have quit in me. There was never an option to stop and quit."
--Major Lisa Jaster, third woman to graduate from U.S. Army Ranger School
8. "The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."
--Eisenhower's "in case of failure" contingency D-Day message
9. "A passion for life is contagious and uplifting. Passion cuts both ways... I want to create passion in my own life and with those I care for. I want to feel, experience and live every emotion. I will suffer through the bad for the heights of the good."
― Pat Tillman, football star who joined the Army Rangers after 9/11 and was killed in action in Afghanistan
10. "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
11. "I was thinking really of future generations of women that I would like them to have that opportunity so I had that pressure on myself And not letting people down that I knew believed in me, people that were supporting me."
--Capt. Kristen Griest, one of the first two women to graduate from U.S. Army Ranger School
12. "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
--George S. Patton
13. "In the military, you learn the essence of people. You see so many examples of self-sacrifice and moral courage. In the rest of life, you don't get that many opportunities to be sure of your friends."
--Adam Driver, actor and Marine Corps veteran
14. "Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid."
--Colonel David Hackworth
15. "Your days are numbered. Use them to throw open the windows of your soul to the sun. If you do not, the sun will soon set, and you with it."
16. "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
17. "Good luck, Godspeed, and come home safe."
--Me (at the time, Capt. Bill Murphy), at the end of every law of war briefing I gave to deploying soldiers who were flying from Fort Drum, N.Y. to Iraq, during 2003