Inauguration Day


I’ve been quiet on Southern Exposure for the past few weeks.

I’ll confess that for much of that time, I knew there was nothing I could say that would be half as riveting and certainly not even a millionth as horrifying as the events on the news.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent many hours reading newspapers or watching television news. While Inauguration Day is supposed to be a joyous, hopeful occasion, many people–too many of whom we previously elected to office–have made sure this one can’t be. Instead of joy we have more troops offering protection in our nation’s capital this week than we have in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So in honor of this occasion, brought to us by the same democracy that rioters tried to destroy on January 6th, I’m sharing quotes from our former presidents. History hasn’t always dealt kindly with these men, but their bits of wisdom are worth a lot. Some of them are particularly relevant today.

And yes, there’s one humorous quote, which was meant to be funny when George W Bush uttered it. His words gave me a smile and reminded me how tough the job can be.

Presidential Quotes

“Ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who make excuses.”George Washington

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”John Quincy Adams

“On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.”Thomas Jefferson

“It’s easier to do a job right, than to explain why you didn’t.”Martin Van Buren 

“I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.”Abraham Lincoln

“There are men and women who make the world better just by being the kind of people they are. They have the gift of kindness or courage or loyalty or integrity. It really matters very little whether they are behind the wheel of a truck or running a business or bringing up a family. They teach the truth by living it.” ― James Garfield 

“An honorable defeat is better than a dishonorable victory.”Millard Fillmore

“Patriotism is easy to understand in America. It means looking out for yourself by looking out for your country.”Calvin Coolidge

“The only man who makes no mistake is the man who does nothing.”  — Theodore Roosevelt

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”Harry S. Truman

“Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life.” — John F. Kennedy

“A president’s hardest task is not to do what is right, but to know what is right.” — Lyndon Johnson

“We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.” ― Jimmy Carter

I frankly felt like the reception we received on the way in from the airport was very warm and hospitable. And I want to thank the Canadian people who came out to wave — with all five fingers — for their hospitality.” ― George W. Bush

“The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on.”Barack Obama

Let’s all press on together now. One nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Welcome Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to the most difficult jobs in the world.


  1. Joni Everson on January 20, 2021 at 5:31 am

    💯 true!!!
    So sad what our Country has become-

  2. Denise Almazar on January 20, 2021 at 6:57 am

    Wonderful quotes! Thank you. I hope today goes well and we celebrate the start of a new chapter in our countries history.

    • Pat Kennedy on January 20, 2021 at 8:43 am

      Ditto, Denise! …I could not say it any better. Thanks.

  3. Linda Hengst on January 20, 2021 at 7:21 am

    Thank you, Emilie

  4. Shelley Costa on January 20, 2021 at 7:36 am

    Wonderful choices for presidential quotes, Emilie. Happy Inauguration Day!

  5. DELORES on January 20, 2021 at 7:38 am

    A lot of wisdom in those comments! Thank you! I think many will breathe a sigh of relief at noon today.

  6. Kathleen O'Donnell on January 20, 2021 at 10:04 am

    I celebrate today with my American neighbours. I feel like you should all be singing the Hallelujah song! That’s how I as a Canadian feel.. It was my first thought as I rose from my bed this morning! God speed to President Joe Biden.

  7. Casey Daniels on January 20, 2021 at 10:13 am

    We don’t hear from Martin Van Buren enough.

    • Emilie Richards on January 20, 2021 at 10:32 am

      You’ll note I included Millard Fillmore. Oddly MVB was never on any quote page I consulted. Have a choice for us?

  8. Adelyn Grudier on January 20, 2021 at 2:41 pm

    Wonderful quotes to let us know that our country has always had the courage to keep moving forward. It had only been recently that we have seen this fabric of unity torn apart by those who would be king – if only in their mind.
    I hope we can all move foreward to get us beyond these sad times and we’ll all be safe from the horrendous virus we have at this time. Better days ahead and kindness for all.

  9. Pat Kennedy on January 20, 2021 at 3:01 pm

    Hello Everyone!
    I actually was more emotional than I expected. I also felt pride(that some genuinely good person is in command. And for absolute joy, feeling like we are going to make it out of this horrid 4 years of , well, we all know, meanness, lying, dishonesty, greed, golly, couldn’t I go on and on? But I feel better about the USA than I have in a long time. Okay it was only 4 years, but it felt as if it was forever. A horrible time. Now we can look up. And feel proud again. True Blue. In so many ways.

  10. Lynn Ross on January 20, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    I enjoyed all your comments, Emilie, and was inspired by the presidential quotes. During the inauguration, I felt a bit of patriotism and a glimmer of hope that I have not had since Obama’s first inauguration. Presently we are watching World News Tonight, and I was surprised at the feeling of warmth in my heart at a news clip of President Biden sitting at his desk in the Oval Office. In spite of my jaded state, I do feel a faith that things may get better.

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