Veterans and Memorial Day: celebration vs reflection
- June 23, 2015
- / Marketta Davis, pnj.com
- / Post Tags
The main difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day is that Veterans Day is a time to thank and honor ALL those who have served honorably in the military, largely those who are still living — our veterans. Whereas Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor ONLY those who died as a result of their service to their country.
And while all servicemen and women, dead or alive, are often remembered and honored on both days, each has its own purpose and meaning, and should be treated as such.
Veterans Day, formally known as Armistice Day in recognition of the end of WWI, was proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson in November 1919. According to va.gov, his proclamation stated the following:
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations ... "
Veterans Day, celebrated on Nov. 11, acknowledges the contributions veterans have made serving in the U.S. military and is a time to celebrate those contributions.
Memorial Day, formally known as Decoration Day, was proclaimed by Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in May 1868. The day was born out of the Civil War, according to usmemorialday.org, and a desire to honor our dead. Logan's General Order No. 11 states:
"The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land."
Memorial Day, celebrated on the last Monday of May, is a federal holiday acknowledging those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, a day not for celebrating but for reflecting and honoring.
Most who recognize Veterans and Memorial Day have good intentions. They simply want to honor our military servicemen and women, and rightly so. But it's imperative to know the difference in the days to understand who we're recognizing and why.
So this Memorial Day, be mindful of the occasion. While many say 'Happy Veterans Day' in November, it may not be as appropriate to say 'Happy Memorial Day' in May. For many, this isn't a happy day rather it's a bittersweet time to pay homage to those who were lost.
Instead of saying 'Happy Memorial Day,' thank a mother who lost a son or daughter, visit Barrancas National Cemetery and place a flower on a grave.
Reflect on the sacrifices that have been made by those who paved the way for our lives, liberty and pursuit of happiness.