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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1730
AUTHOR: George Smith Patton, Jr. (1885–1945)
QUOTATION: It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.
ATTRIBUTION: Attributed to General GEORGE S. PATTON, JR., speech at the Copley Plaza Hotel, Boston Massachusetts, June 7, 1945.—These words were reported by William Blair in The New York Times, June 8, 1945, p. 6, and by Stephen Lynch in the Boston Herald, June 8, 1945, pp. 1, 16 (where “the” appears as “these”). Other newspapers of that day have variant wordings.

The speech was extemporaneous and is not included in his published papers. Biographers of Patton have used variant wordings of this quotation, and Mike Wallace as narrator of the 1965 David Wolper television production, General George Patton, quoted this as, “Let me not mourn for the men who have died fighting, but rather let me be glad that such heroes have lived.”

Patton had expressed himself in similar words at a memorial service at an Allied cemetery near Palermo, Italy, November 11, 1943: “I consider it no sacrifice to die for my country. In my mind we came here to thank God that men like these have lived rather than to regret that they have died.”—Harry H. Semmes, Portrait of Patton, p. 176 (1955).
SUBJECTS: Soldiers