The Difference Between Memorial Day & Veterans Day

Twitter / Winston Gin / US Army

For years, and especially since the age of social media, people all over the country have either not known or confused the meaning of both Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

Both holidays are more than a hundred years old – so you might be wondering why so many people are still getting it wrong. We are here to set the record straight and make sure that our servicemembers are honored in the way they deserve.

Twitter / Veterans Affairs

Stop Saying “Happy Memorial Day”

A 2017 post from the Facebook page “Humans on the Homefront” went viral as it told the story of a woman who left the salon cringing through a half-hearted smile after the receptionist wished her a “happy Memorial Day.”

The truth was her husband had been killed serving his country when the helicopter he was on crashed, just eight months into his deployment. So, to her, there was nothing “happy” about Memorial Day. And that’s where many Americans go so wrong with this much more somber national holiday.

Oftentimes, America is washed over with department stores throwing a “Memorial Day Sale Event” and car dealerships tying red, white, and blue balloons to their cars in massive bundles all the while slashing prices and running obnoxious ads all over radio and television.

But all of those businesses taking advantage of the long weekend paint a picture that masks the real meaning of Memorial Day.

A tweet from the Department of Veterans Affairs reveals the significance behind this national holiday – and why you will never want to wish someone a “happy” Memorial Day ever again.

“Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor courageous men and women who sacrificed their lives in service to our country.”

And an excerpt from the widow’s story we talked about earlier explains the reality of many people’s Memorial Day…

Facebook / Humans on the Homefront

Memorial Day was originally marked as a national day set aside to take time and decorate fallen soldiers’ graves with wreaths, flowers, or flags to indicate that their sacrifice will never be forgotten – no matter how many years pass.

Veterans Day, formerly called Armistice Day

A pivotal end to World War I, some of the largest hostile activities ceased in 1918 – on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, in the 11th month. The exact moment the Armistice with Germany went into effect.

Now, over 100 years later, the date has remained the same but from 1954 onward it has been known as Veterans Day and is a day set aside to honor every single veteran who has served our country.

November 11th was marked as Veterans Day for the first time in 1919 by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and often contains celebrations of service through the sharing of photographs, community get-togethers with veterans, and banners sharing our nation’s gratitude for the service of these brave men and women.

To get Veterans Day confused with Memorial Day is a mistake – because their meanings are significant in their own ways, and each deserves its own time and place to be honored.

All of our veterans and fallen soldiers deserve the respect of all Americans to take the time to learn the difference between these holidays – and making an effort to honor them appropriately.

Take a minute to watch the news report below about these holidays – and send this article to a friend who needs to know their meanings.

We thank all of our veterans for their devoted service to our wonderful country and we honor those who have fallen while serving on this Memorial Day. 

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