Memorial Day vs. Veterans Day: How are they different?

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Difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day

Memorial Day and Veterans Day are two of the most cherished holidays in the United States, but too often people are unaware of what they signify. That both holidays have something to do with soldiers is as far as many people are willing to think of them, although there is a little bit more to them than that. Here’s a quick look at two of the United States’ most hallowed traditions.

What It Is

Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed in the United States every last Monday of May. The holiday formerly went by the name “Decoration Day” and it was originally intended as a commemoration of the death of soldiers who died in the service. The holiday was first marked in honor of the Union soldiers, although its scope was expanded after World War I to include all Americans who have died in war. Memorial Day is also typically when summer vacation starts in the United States. Veterans Day is a holiday observed in the United States every November 11. Interestingly enough, the holiday has its counterparts in many other parts of the world, where it is often celebrated as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day. The event commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, which effectively put an end to World War I.

Origins

Memorial Day started out as a way to remember those who passed away in the war and as a means of reconciliation after the Civil War. It during the early 20th century that the holiday was modified to focus more on general mourning, whether or not they are for military personnel or for civilians. As for Veterans Day, the holiday originated from the "Armistice Day" as proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson. In 1953, the holiday was expanded to celebrate all combat veterans, and not just those who had served in World War I. The bill for the holiday was finally made into law in May 1954, under the term of President Dwight Eisenhower.

Observance

Memorial Day is typically observed with a visit to the cemetery. All over the country, people observe a Moment Of Remembrance at 3 p.m. The flag of the United States is also typically flown at half-mast from dawn until noon. Volunteers also place American flags on each of the graves at the National Cemeteries. Veterans Day was originally intended for annual celebration on November 11, although this was later moved to the fourth Monday of October. By 1978, the Veterans Day celebration was moved back to its original date, and opposition began to mount with regard to closing businesses, schools and local government offices on this day.

Summary

Memorial Day

  • Observed every last Monday of May
  • Known previously as Decoration Day
  • Celebrated all over the country

Veterans Day

  • A tradition that began as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day
  • Many schools, businesses and government offices now chose to remain open
  • Observed in the United States every November 11
  • Was made into law in May 1954

Which holiday is celebrated by more people?
  • Memorial Day
  • Veterans Day
 
 

Discuss It: comments 1

  • Guest
  • altius wrote on August 2010

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