Memorial Day Vs. Veterans Day: Learn the Meaning of These National Holidays by Rebecca Townsend
Because of my expertise in military mental health, I'm often asked what the meanings of Memorial Day and Veterans Day are. In the last 17 years, we have become more conscientious about honoring service members and veterans. Everyone wants to do and say the right thing.
There is often confusion about differences in Memorial Day and Veterans Day. In short, Memorial Day honors those who died in service to our nation. Veterans Day celebrates all those who have or are currently serving in the military. Many people will thank service members and veterans on Memorial Day, misunderstanding it is often a solemn day of remembering those who gave their lives in service.
Formally called Armistice Day, Veterans Day was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I on November 11, 1918. According to Military.com, in legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was "dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day.'" As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans. In 1954, it became a day to honor American veterans from all wars.
Memorial Day started during the Civil War era when over 600,000 soldiers lost their lives. A tradition of Memorial Day is to wear a red poppy, which is the result of a WWI poem, "In Flanders Field." Flag custom on Memorial Day is to fly the flag at half-staff until noon and then raise to full height. In 2000, Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance – at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day, we should pause for one minute. Why 3 p.m.? It is when most Americans will be enjoying their freedoms we have in this country because of those who gave their lives.
One minute probably doesn't seem like enough time to honor these heroes and the truth is, it isn't. We will never be able to repay those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.
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