Charts & Graphs

Memorable Mottoes

National rememberings and forgettings.

motto origin evolution
an LED image of a robot and the words never forget. never forget In 2001 the phrase, a variation on the post-Holocaust refrain “Never Again,” became associated with patriotic commemorations of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. The phrase is often used sarcastically to refer to events deemed to have been blown out of proportion, such as the Boston police mistaking LED placards of TV cartoon characters for bombs in 2007.
a photograph of a monument depicting three men standing over a cannon. One holds a trident. never forget national humiliation First popularized in Chinese newspapers in response to President Yuan Shikai’s concessions to Japan in 1915, the phrase Wu wang guo chi is inscribed on monuments commemorating the Opium Wars and the Nanjing Massacre. In 2005 the anniversary of the concessions to the Japanese fell during the Mid-Autumn Festival, a popular time for weddings. A Chinese newspaper reported many couples scrambling to reschedule. “It makes me uneasy to have my wedding celebration on the Day of National Humiliation,” said one bride.
the cover of recording artist Marilyn Manson's album Lest We Forget. lest we forget The final line of the 1897 Rudyard Kipling poem “Recessional,” the phrase is used to commemorate war casualties across the British Commonwealth, particularly on Remembrance Day in the UK and Anzac Day in Australia and New Zealand. For reasons unknown, American goth musician Marilyn Manson selected the phrase as the title of his 2004 best-of album.
A cocktail. remember the maine A variation on the older refrain “Remember the Alamo,” the expression was popularized after an 1898 explosion destroyed the USS Maine in Havana Harbor, leading a reluctant Congress to commit to the Spanish-American War. A recipe for a manhattan-like cocktail named “Remember the Maine, a Hazy Memory of a Night in Havana” in Charles H. Baker’s 1939 Gentleman’s Companion concludes, “Treat this one with the respect it deserves, gentlemen.”
A Guy Fawkes mask. remember, remember, the fifth of november The first line of a nineteenth-century folk poem celebrating the failure of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, the rhyme is often sung as Guy Fawkes effigies are burned on Bonfire Night. Characters recite the phrase in the 2005 film V for Vendetta. The Guy Fawkes mask worn by the film’s hero, a vigilante attempting to overthrow a dystopian Parliament, has since become a symbol of the hacktivist group Anonymous.
A Quebec license plate featuring the words Je me souviens. i remember The motto of Quebec, Je
me souviens
is attributed to nineteenth-century politician Eugène-Étienne Taché. Since the mid-twentieth century, it has served as a rallying cry for Quebec separatism.
When the phrase began appearing on Quebec license plates in 1978, Taché’s granddaughter wrote a letter to the Montreal Star claiming it was taken out of context from a poem that expressed loyalty to the British.