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What is the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day

person holding an american flag

I would like to quickly answer the question, what is the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day? 

Memorial Day is a day to honor those service members who died during any war or conflict that they were in. Veteran’s Day is to honor living veterans.

These two holidays have different historical antecedents. Memorial Day comes from an earlier tradition called “Decoration Day.” I don’t know about yours, but one of my aunties down south still celebrates this holiday. Decoration Day was created to honor those who died during the Civil War. The tradition expanded, at least in my family, to honor your family gravesites. In 1971 Congress made Memorial Day a Federal Holiday, marking its observance the last Monday in May. Congress also made Memorial Day a holiday where we honor all Veterans who passed while fighting for their country. Not just the Civil War.

Veteran’s Day or Armistice Day in other countries is always celebrated on November 11th. November 11th is when World War I ended. One year after World War I ended, President Wilson proclaimed the first Armistice Day in the United States. This holiday was to honor those who served in the war. In 1954, Congress expanded the holiday to honor all Veterans and renamed Veteran’s Day. The United States has celebrated Veteran’s Day on November 11th since 1978. However, if falling on a weekend, it will be observed the Friday or Monday before.

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