While Memorial Day and Veterans Day both honor our country’s military forces, there are some subtle yet important differences between the two. Here are all the ways these special days are unique, plus interesting facts about each one and ideas for how you can properly celebrate America's heroes.
What is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day?
Memorial Day is to remember and honor all military personnel who died in the service of our country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle, according to the .
Established three years after the Civil War in 1868, Memorial Day was once known as Decoration Day, a time to decorate the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers with flowers. (Eventually the holiday was expanded to honor all Americans who died while in the military service). The day fell on May 30th every year until 1971, when Congress declared Memorial Day (the new official name) a national holiday and modified the date to the last Monday of May.
Veterans Day is to honor all those who have served in the military, in a time of war or peace. According to the , Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service and to acknowledge their sacrifice.
According to the , Veterans Day was first observed on November 11, 1919 — one year after the Allies and Germans signed a ceasefire agreement, marking the end of World War I. However, just like Memorial Day, the holiday once had a different name: Armistice Day. The holiday eventually became known as Veterans Day after World War II, and the official date of observance even changed a few times before settling on the original date of November 11 in the late '70s.
When are Memorial Day and Veterans Day this year?
In 2019, Memorial Day will be observed on May 27th, while Veterans Day is on November 11th, every year.
How is each holiday observed?
For Memorial Day, cities hold parades and people visit cemeteries and decorate graves with flowers and American flags. If you're interested in paying your respects, check the to find a veterans cemetery near you, or if there isn’t one in your state, you can sponsor flowers through the organization .
Volunteers will place your donation and hundreds of others at veterans' grave sites in 40 cemeteries nationwide. No matter where you are, everyone can take part in the at 3 P.M. local time.
For Veterans Day, churches host special services honoring military veterans, towns hold parades, and people find various ways to thank veterans they know and love as well as ones they’ve never met. Interested in showing your appreciation? Get your family and friends together to write cards to veterans across the country through , or put together care packages for veterans through .