What’s the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?


American flags are placed at a fountain in honor of fallen service members during a ceremony at the Tidewater Veterans Memorial in Virginia Beach for Veterans Day. The City of Virginia Beach has been hosting the Veterans Day parade and ceremonies since 1970. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Betsy Knapper/Released)

(WETM) – Today on Veterans Day we commemorate all of those who have served and continue to serve in this country, but what’s the difference between today and Memorial Day?

In order to get an understanding of both days, we have to first look back in time to just after World War I where Veterans Day was known as Armistice Day.

It was celebrated as a way of remembering the end of World War I and those that served during the war and wasn’t until 1938 that it became an official holiday. Veterans Day as we know it today wasn’t a thing until 1954 when it was officially changed to honor those that have served in all wars and those currently serving.

For about seven years from 1968 to 1975 Veterans Day was celebrated in October on a Monday as a way of giving workers a long weekend but in 1975, President Gerald Ford moved it back to due to the significance of World War I ending.

In many places in Europe, Armistice Day is still honored and celebrated on the same day, Nov. 11.

How Veterans Day differs from Memorial Day

Memorial Day on the other goes further back than Veterans Day/Armistice Day.

Those ties for Memorial Day go all the way back to the Civil War, and signifies all of those that have died in US military service.

Originally it was to honor those that died during the Civil War but later was changed to include all wars. The day was known as Decoration Day, according to historian Matthew Dennis, who told NPR in 2005 and was celebrated on May 30.

On Decoration Day it was known that people would decorate the graves of fallen soldiers that died during the Civil War, both Union and Confederacy.

What many might not know is that the annual tradition of decorating the graves of the fallen is believed to have originated in Waterloo N.Y., between Geneva and Seneca Falls.

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