There are several key differences between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Here’s what you need to know.

While most Americans know that Memorial Day and Veterans Day are more than just bookends to the summer months, they may not understand the key differences in the way they honor our veterans. In this post, we’ll provide the who, what, when, and why of each observed holiday.

When Is Each Day Observed?

Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May. As a federal holiday, most businesses are closed, along with all government offices.

Veterans Day is a public holiday observed each year on November 11. As a public holiday, federal government offices are closed but many businesses and schools remain open.  

Who Does Each Day Honor?

Memorial Day honors all military personnel who died defending their country, especially those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.

Veterans Day is observed to remember all who served in the military, whether or not they served in wartime.

What Traditions Are Held to Observe Each Holiday?

Memorial Day: Many people visit cemeteries and memorial sites to remember those who have died serving. At the cemeteries, volunteers decorate graves with American flags, flowers, and wreaths. Parades are held, and at 3:00pm, a national moment of remembrance takes place.

Veterans Day is intended to honor and thank all military personnel who served the United States in all wars, particularly living veterans. It is marked by parades and church services and in many places the American flag is hung at half mast. A period of silence lasting two minutes may be held at 11am.

Why Do We Observe Each Holiday?

Memorial Day originated in 1868 after the Civil War ended. Since it had the most deaths of any war in US history at that point, Americans began commemorating those that had given their life by decorating their grave sites and memorials. Eventually, this Decoration Day turned into what we know today as Memorial Day.

You can learn more about Memorial Day’s history in our blog, [FACT CHECK: The Origins of Memorial Day].

Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day after an armistice between Germany and the Allied nations came into effect on November 11, 1918. The first Armistice Day was observed a year later on November 11, 1919 President Wilson proclaimed the day should be “filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory”.

In 1938, Armistice Day on November 11 was made a legal holiday. Originally meant to honor those who had served in World War I, but World War II and the Korean War, the decision was made to expand upon which veterans the day honored. In 1954, Congress changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day, honoring all American veterans, regardless of where and when they had served.

Honoring Veterans 365 Days A Year

While it’s wonderful that we have two days each year dedicated to honoring those who have served, there is always more to be done. Here at AVCC, we strive to provide veteran home care services 24/7, 365. We offer a variety of services to ensure that all those who have defended our freedom can retain as much of their lifestyle independence as possible each day. If you’re interested in learning more about our services or partnering with us to help serve veterans, contact us today!