Today is Memorial Day, and, although they are similar, Memorial Day is not Veterans Day.
On Memorial Day, we remember those who have died in the service of their country, either in battle or as a result of battle.
On Veterans Day, we honor former military personnel, wether they served in war or in peace. In general, Veterans Day is supposed to recognize living veterans for their courage and sacrifice; it is on this day we assure our veterans that they are not forgotten.
Memorial Day: A Brief History
Memorial Day was first observed on May 28, 1868. At that time it was called Decoration Day, and was set aside to specifically honor those who served on both sides of the American Civil War. This tradition continued until World War I, when it expanded to include all those killed in American wars.
Veterans Day: A Brief History
Veterans Day, originally called Armistice Day, was first observed in 1919. World War I had ended at 11:00 AM on November 11,1918. One year later, President Woodrow Wilson declared November 11 the first Armistice Day:
To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…
Twenty years later, an act of Congress made November 11 a federal holiday called Armistice Day. Just as Decoration Day was to honor Civil War veterans, Armistice Day was to honor World War I veterans. This tradition continued until 1954, when the word Armistice was changed to Veterans in order to include all American veterans.
So remember: Memorial Day honors the dead; Veterans Day honors the living. And never forget to thank a vet.