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Monday, May 25, 2015

Get it straight: The difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day

(CNN) We are here to make sure you don't embarrass yourself.

Inevitably, someone says something demonstrating confusion over the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Allow us to explain it to you.

Memorial Day: Celebrated the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is the holiday set aside to pay tribute to those who died serving in the military.

The website for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs recounts the start of Memorial Day this way:

"Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans -- the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) -- established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country."

The passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 by Congress made it an official holiday.

Veterans Day: This federal holiday falls on November 11 and is designated as a day to honor all who have served in the military. According to, Veterans Day began as Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918.

"In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress -- at the urging of the veterans service organizations -- amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting the word "Veterans," the site says. "With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars."



Anonymous said...

I'm aware of the difference , but, it is so sad that the younger people don't know and they don't care. Party time for them!

Anonymous said...

Joe...I'm a former marine and gulf war vet...I get very uneasy when people wish me a "happy memorial day". I saw some of my brother marines die in that conflict memorial day is for them..not for me. Semper Fi my brothers. ..semper fi.

Anonymous said...

5:25 - they are just being polite, cut them some slack.

And thank you for your service.

Anonymous said...

Be it Memorial Day or Veterans Day they are meant to be times of reflection and remembrance, not just picnics or time off from work for some. Have a little respect and by this we teach the ones who are confused or have not suffered personal loss.

Anonymous said...

Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum also thank you for your service.