Difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day

written by McKenzie Murdoch

     There can often be confusion on how to differentiate between Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day. Both observed by Americans, and are associated with men and women who have served in the Armed Forces. The only main differences are how the holiday originated and who the holiday really focuses on honoring.

     Memorial Day is an American holiday started to honor and mourn the military personnel that died while serving in any of the Armed Forces. It is often celebrated on the last Monday of May. Unofficially, it can be considered the start of Summer.

     Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day began after the Civil War ended in 1865. The Civil War had killed more people than any other conflict or war had at that point in our history. The war was what caused the demand for cemeteries, as well. There were so many dead that people had to start building cemeteries to memorialize the fallen soldiers. Then, in the late 1860’s, Americans began holding spring-time tributes for the dead. Memorial Day  became an official holiday in 1971.

     Veterans Day is a federal holiday and honors everyone who serves in the Armed Forces, and takes place Nov. 11. Although World War I ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed, the fighting stopped seven months earlier on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, which is Nov. 11. That day became referred to as the day that the war to end all wars ended. 

     President Woodrow Wilson made Nov. 11 the first commemoration of what was formerly known as Armistice Day. They changed the name to Veterans Day to honor Veterans of all wars. An act which took place on May 13, 1938 made it a legal holiday. It was originally meant to honor World War I Veterans, but now all veterans are honored.

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