Memorial Day is NOT to be confused with Veterans Day; Yet MANY consider them the same. One honors the dead the other celebrates the living. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died in service to our country, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all living U.S. military veterans. As a the daughter of a highly decorated, U.S. Army officer (retired) who served in Vietnam, we were taught to pay special homage to both days, but do we REALLY NEED BOTH? Are the holidays REALLY that different?

Many Americans see the holidays as the SAME, a day for BBQs, parties, patriotism, fireworks and here in Florida…. a day for the beach. But these holidays were created for MUCH more important reasons. Created and recognized by the US government, these holidays were reserved specifically to honor and remember those in the armed forces. But what’s the difference? Why do we need both?  The difference is simple really.

Memorial Day

A day to honor the dead. People have been decorating grave sites of the fallen for hundreds of years, but Memorial Day was NOT made an official national holiday until 1966 when it was signed into law by then sitting President Johnson.  Always the last Monday of May, it is a day to remember those who gave their lives in service to our country. We remember the DEAD and honor their sacrifice and the sacrifice of their families. HONOR THE DEAD!

Veterans Day

A day to celebrate the living. In stark contrast, Veteran’s Day (always Nov 11th) is a day to celebrate the service of all living U.S. Veterans. Why Nov 11th?  World War I ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. Once called Armistice Day, the holiday was renamed to Veteran’s Day in 1954. CELEBRATE THE LIVING!

Do we need both?

ABSOLUTELY YES!!! They are intended for different reasons. It’s as simple as living and dead.  Easy to remember and BOTH VERY IMPORTANT. While different, some things should remain the same. Both holidays are a perfect opportunity to show your patriotism and appreciation for the armed forces. They keep us safe at great sacrifice to themselves and their families.  Wave your flags, watch a parade, see the fireworks, celebrate with friends and family, have that BBQ, but don’t forget to reflect on the blessings these brave men and women (living or dead) sacrifice EVERY SINGLE DAY for us to have the freedom to enjoy all those things. They’ve earned a few moments of your time.

 

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