Dwight D. Eisenhower Quotes on Death, War, Leadership, Planning & More

When death, the great reconciler, has come, it is never our tenderness that we repent of, but our severity.

Dwight D. Eisenhower quote on death

Worldly faces never look so worldly as at a funeral. They have the same effect of grating incongruity as the sound of a coarse voice breaking the solemn silence of night.

Science is properly more scrupulous than dogma. Dogma gives a charter to mistake, but the very breath of science is a contest with mistake, and must keep the conscience alive.

Belief consists in accepting the affirmations of the soul; unbelief, in denying them.

Whether happiness may come or not, one should try and prepare one’s self to do without it.

The happiest women, like the happiest nations, have no history.

Falsehood is easy, truth so difficult.

But what we call our despair is often only the painful eagerness of unfed hope.

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

Dwight D Eisenhower quote on leadership

Vanity is as ill at ease under indifference as tenderness is under a love which it cannot return.

Marriage must be a relation either of sympathy or of conquest.

Will not a tiny speck very close to our vision blot out the glory of the world, and leave only a margin by which we see the blot? I know no speck so troublesome as self.

This desk of mine is one at which a man may die, but from which he cannot resign.

Adventure is not outside man; it is within.

There’s no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.

We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.

Things have never been more like the way they are today in history.

Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.

An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.

I like not only to be loved, but also to be told I am loved.

The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words.

The world moves, and ideas that were once good are not always good.

We hand folks over to God’s mercy, and show none ourselves.

You may try but you can never imagine what it is to have a man’s form of genius in you, and to suffer the slavery of being a girl.

The most terrible job in warfare is to be a second lieutenant leading a platoon when you are on the battlefield.

Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.

Death is the king of this world: ‘Tis his park where he breeds life to feed him. Cries of pain are music for his banquet.

Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose.

Jealousy is never satisfied with anything short of an omniscience that would detect the subtlest fold of the heart.

There are many victories worse than a defeat.

It is easy to say how we love new friends, and what we think of them, but words can never trace out all the fibers that knit us to the old.

Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.

In the vain laughter of folly wisdom hears half its applause.

Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure.

Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.

There are a number of things wrong with Washington. One of them is that everyone is too far from home.

The United States strongly seeks a lasting agreement for the discontinuance of nuclear weapons tests. We believe that this would be an important step toward reduction of international tensions and would open the way to further agreement on substantial measures of disarmament.

The world is full of hopeful analogies and handsome, dubious eggs, called possibilities.

There is no private life which has not been determined by a wider public life.

The spirit of man is more important than mere physical strength, and the spiritual fiber of a nation than its wealth.

What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

Excessive literary production is a social offense.

Genius at first is little more than a great capacity for receiving discipline.

We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it.

When we get to wishing a great deal for ourselves, whatever we get soon turns into mere limitation and exclusion.

Might, could, would – they are contemptible auxiliaries.

More helpful than all wisdom is one draught of simple human pity that will not forsake us.

The sergeant is the Army.

Iteration, like friction, is likely to generate heat instead of progress.

That’s what a man wants in a wife, mostly; he wants to make sure one fool tells him he’s wise.

And when a woman’s will is as strong as the man’s who wants to govern her, half her strength must be concealment.

It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them.

The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest. You are always being asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down.

We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment.

No evil dooms us hopelessly except the evil we love, and desire to continue in, and make no effort to escape from.

It is never too late to be what you might have been.

You have a row of dominoes set up; you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is that it will go over very quickly.

Well, when you come down to it, I don’t see that a reporter could do much to a president, do you?

Unlike presidential administrations, problems rarely have terminal dates.

The free world must not prove itself worthy of its own past.

The clearest way to show what the rule of law means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law.

The best morale exist when you never hear the word mentioned. When you hear a lot of talk about it, it’s usually lousy.

Some years ago I became president of Columbia University and learned within 24 hours to be ready to speak at the drop of a hat, and I learned something more, the trustees were expected to be ready to speak at the passing of the hat.

Some people wanted champagne and caviar when they should have had beer and hot dogs.

Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.

Pull the string, and it will follow wherever you wish. Push it, and it will go nowhere at all.

Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.

Politics is a profession; a serious, complicated and, in its true sense, a noble one.

Plans are nothing; planning is everything.

Dwight D Eisenhower quote on Planning

Pessimism never won any battle.

Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin.

Our real problem, then, is not our strength today; it is rather the vital necessity of action today to ensure our strength tomorrow.

Our pleasures were simple – they included survival.

Our forces saved the remnants of the Jewish people of Europe for a new life and a new hope in the reborn land of Israel. Along with all men of good will, I salute the young state and wish it well.

Only strength can cooperate. Weakness can only beg.

Only our individual faith in freedom can keep us free.

Only Americans can hurt America.

Oh, that lovely title, ex-president.

No one should ever sit in this office over 70 years old, and that I know.

Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.

Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it.

May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.

It is far more important to be able to hit the target than it is to haggle over who makes a weapon or who pulls a trigger.

In the final choice a soldier’s pack is not so heavy as a prisoner’s chains.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

In most communities it is illegal to cry ‘fire’ in a crowded assembly. Should it not be considered serious international misconduct to manufacture a general war scare in an effort to achieve local political aims?

If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking… is freedom.

If the United Nations once admits that international disputes can be settled by using force, then we will have destroyed the foundation of the organization and our best hope of establishing a world order.

If men can develop weapons that are so terrifying as to make the thought of global war include almost a sentence for suicide, you would think that man’s intelligence and his comprehension… would include also his ability to find a peaceful solution.

If a problem cannot be solved, enlarge it.

I’m saving that rocker for the day when I feel as old as I really am.

I would rather try to persuade a man to go along, because once I have persuaded him, he will stick. If I scare him, he will stay just as long as he is scared, and then he is gone.

I thought it completely absurd to mention my name in the same breath as the presidency.

I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.

I shall make that trip. I shall go to Korea.

I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.

I have only one yardstick by which I test every major problem – and that yardstick is: Is it good for America?

I have one yardstick by which I test every major problem – and that yardstick is: Is it good for America?

I have found out in later years that we were very poor, but the glory of America is that we didn’t know it then.

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 D Eisenhower quote on war

I feel impelled to speak today in a language that in a sense is new-one which I, who have spent so much of my life in the military profession, would have preferred never to use. That new language is the language of atomic warfare.

I despise people who go to the gutter on either the right or the left and hurl rocks at those in the center.

I deplore the need or the use of troops anywhere to get American citizens to obey the orders of constituted courts.

I can think of nothing more boring for the American people than to have to sit in their living rooms for a whole half hour looking at my face on their television screens.

Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.

How far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without?

History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.

Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels – men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.

From behind the Iron Curtain, there are signs that tyranny is in trouble and reminders that its structure is as brittle as its surface is hard.

Few women, I fear, have had such reason as I have to think the long sad years of youth were worth living for the sake of middle age.

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

Don’t think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.

Don’t join the book burners. Do not think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative.

Any man who wants to be president is either an egomaniac or crazy.

Ankles are nearly always neat and good-looking, but knees are nearly always not.

An intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.

An atheist is a man who watches a Notre Dame – Southern Methodist University game and doesn’t care who wins.

A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.

Is it not rather what we expect in men, that they should have numerous strands of experience lying side by side and never compare them with each other?

I should like to know what is the proper function of women, if it is not to make reasons for husbands to stay at home, and still stronger reasons for bachelors to go out.

No compliment can be eloquent, except as an expression of indifference.

We must find our duties in what comes to us, not in what might have been.

No great deed is done by falterers who ask for certainty.

We must not sit still and look for miracles; up and doing, and the Lord will be with thee. Prayer and pains, through faith in Christ Jesus, will do anything.