The Difference Between Veterans Day and Memorial Day

U.S. Military veterans are the (less than) 10% of the population that serve(d) their nation (and local communities) by guarding and preserving the rights and freedoms of the other 90% (or more). Whether present or former active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve, a military veteran is someone who, at some point in his or her life, swore an oath to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution (and the people, places, and principles it represents).

Regardless of type, length, or place of service, the oath taken is essentially a pledge to contribute anything and everything asked (for the “benefit of the nation” as a whole), up to and including one’s life – and those who serve(d) in our Armed Forces deserve our respect, gratitude, and appreciation. Veterans Day is an ideal time to do so.

Veterans Day originally was known as Armistice Day and marked the end of World War I at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 – 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month.

The U.S. Congress designated November 11th as Armistice Day in 1926, and it became a national holiday in 1938. The first celebration using the term Veterans Day occurred in Birmingham, Alabama in 1947 when a World War II veteran organized a parade and other festivities on November 11 to honor all veterans. The idea caught on. In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill designating November 11th as Veterans Day. When November 11th falls on a Sunday, the holiday is observed on Monday. If the 11th is on a Saturday, the holiday is observed on Friday.

Some (older) Americans (still) refer to Memorial Day (in May) as Decoration Day. The difference between the two American holidays honoring our military is that on Memorial Day, we remember and honor military men and women who lost their lives fighting for their country. On Veterans Day, Americans honor all those who served – during war or peace, be they living or dead.

© 2008 – 2014, Oren Pardes. All rights reserved.

Oren Pardes

Oren Pardes has written 73 post in this blog.

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