The Difference Between Veterans Day and Memorial Day
There has always been some sort of confusion with the two military centered holidays we recognize here in America. Today, November 11th, is Veterans Day Day. Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May.
Notice I said recognize and not celebrated. Memorial Day is to remember the fallen men and women of the Armed Forces. Veterans Day recognizes all living members of the Armed Forces.
What is Veterans Day?
November 11th is when we recognize service members who served. World War 1 fighting ended in a cease fire on that day in 1918. Veterans Day used to be known as Armstice Day and was only to honor those who served in WW1. That was amended in 1954 to honor every member of the Armed Forces.
What is Memorial Day?
Memorial Day was formerly called Decoration Day, because it was customary to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. Many observe Memorial Day on the last Monday of May, but some states celebrate it strictly on the 30th. Lawmakers decided to make the last Monday in May the federally recognized holiday.
For the military holidays, the flag flying protocol is also different. For Veterans Day, flags should be flown at full staff. However, for Memorial Day, flags are to be flown at half staff to remember those lost in battle.
It's an easy mistake to make when speaking on these holidays. Growing up next to a military base, I learned very quickly how to address soldiers, veterans, and these holidays. Often times, many veterans I've spoken to say that we should be celebrating Veterans Day instead of the infamous Memorial Day weekend celebrations. Memorial Day is meant to remember those we lost and I was corrected plenty of times when I was younger not to say "Happy Memorial Day" because it is not meant to be a happy day.
At the end of the day, we should all be very thankful for all service members both alive and passed. It should be an every day thing, not just a summer and fall day.
Thank you to all veterans for serving this country. Words don't seem like enough for what these men and women have done.