As a veteran, it has always been pretty interesting to me to watch and read what people say and do on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. There is a big difference between the two. Read on…
Memorial Day was first called Decoration Day and it was held on May 30 of each year. It was a time set aside for the nation “to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers.” Notice they said, “war dead.” According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website, “In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May” (Congress loves three-day weekends).
You can read more about the history of Memorial Day HERE.
Maybe this column will serve as a Memorial Day or Veterans Day 101 primer. Some people need it. A few years ago one elected official sent an e-mail saying, “This Memorial Day, please join me in honoring the servicemen and servicewomen who have served our country overseas.”
The funny thing is that the elected official was a retired military officer.
I always chuckle when I read about an elected official who did not serve in the military trying to tie themselves to veterans and the military with remarks like, “As the son of a Marine” or, “My grandfather served in Nam.” It’s like they are attempting to make-up for their non-military service.
As for Veterans Day, that day is November 11. That is a great day (as is every day) to thank a veteran for their service. November 11 has been a legal holiday since 1938. They attempted to make Veterans Day part of a three-day weekend, but that failed.
Veterans Day was once called Armistice Day and according to the VA website, “With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.” They key words there, “a day to honor American veterans of all wars.”
You can read all about the history of Veterans Day HERE.
By the way, it’s also always good to thank a person who is currently serving the military. There’s also a day set aside for that, Armed Forces Day. That day is observed on the third Saturday in May.You can read all about the history of Armed Forces Day HERE.
Finally, it is never wrong to honor and thank veterans and military personnel for their service – that can never be done enough. We need to thank their families, too.
It’s also important to know the difference.
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