Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May each year (in 2019, Memorial Day is Monday, May 27.) It’s a holiday for honoring and remembering those who have served and died for their country. It’s particularly for honoring military service personnel who lost their lives in battle or from wounds taking place in battle. Memorial Day is to celebrate the men and women who have given their lives for our country.
Since Memorial Day honors those who have died, it’s common for people celebrating the holiday to visit and bring flowers to memorials and cemeteries to honor those who have died in military service. One common way people volunteer for Memorial Day observances is to place an American flag on each grave at military and national cemeteries.
Veterans Day is on November 11 each year. However, we sometimes observe the holiday on the following Monday if it happens to land on a Sunday. For 2019, Veterans Day is Monday, November 11.
Veterans Day doesn’t honor the military dead but instead honors all who are alive and have honorably served in the military. It doesn’t matter if the person served during a war or during peaceful times. If they have been a member of the military at any time, then they are honored and celebrated on Veterans Day.
Why the Distinction is Important
The problem is that the two holidays have, for many, become a time to thank the military. Much of this is because various companies advertise military discounts for active members on Memorial Day.
For those in the military who understand the difference, this can create some awkward situations on Memorial Day. Those who don’t understand the different meanings of the two holidays often approach military personnel and thank them for their service on a day that’s meant to honor the military dead. To be thanked, although well-meaning, when the day is to remember those who have given their lives and not those who are still alive, makes for an uncomfortable situation.
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(Photo courtesy of Ray Bouknight)