The greatest form of patriotism is said to be someone who lays down his life for his country. A joke circulated in the American Legion Weekly in 1923 that the definition of an “orator” is someone who is willing to “lay down your life for his country.” The humor magazine Judge changed the joke definition from “orator” to “militarist.” By 1933. this joke was given as the definition of a “politician.”
The line is often credited to New York City saloon keeper Texas Guinan (1884-1933), but the early 1920s and 1930s citations do not mention her name.
The Universalist Leader
v. 26, nos. 1-26 - 1923
Buck: Can you give me a definition of an orator?
Private: Sure. He’s the fellow who’s always ready to lay down your life for his country.
-- American Legion Weekly.
13 July 1929, New Orleans (LA) Times-Picayune, “Cull’s Corner,” pg. 20, col. 1:
What Our Town Needs Is Some Good Orators
You know—these boys who will gladly—lay down YOUR life for HIS country.
2 January 1930, Chadwick (IL) Review, “Answering Duty’s Call,” pg. 2, col. 3:
Buck—Can you give me a definition of an orator?
Private—Sure. He’s the fellow who’s always ready to lay down your life for his country.
20 January 1933, Albert Lea (MN) Evening Tribune, pg. 2, col. 2:
Judge: A militarist is just a man who is always ready to lay down your life for his country.
30 January 1933, La Crosse (WI) Tribune and Leader-Press, ‘The Coulee Chanticleer” by Ray Peacock, pg. 2, col. 2:
Definitions: A politician—a man who is willing to lay down your life for his country.
Money talks, but mine just says goodbye:
More bumper stickers from the information highway
By Arthur Goldstuck and William Ramwell
Politician: A fellow who’ll lay down your life for his country.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Tuesday, December 15, 2009 • Permalink