This U.S. federal holiday is observed on the last Monday of May to honor the men and women who have died while serving in the military. WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEMORIAL DAY AND VETERANS DAY?
On both Memorial Day and Veterans Day, it’s customary to spend time remembering and honoring the countless veterans who have served the United States throughout the country’s history. However, there is a distinction between the two holidays:
- Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. In other words, the purpose of Memorial Day is to memorialize the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We spend time remembering those who lost their lives and could not come home, reflecting on their service and why we have the luxury and freedom that we enjoy today. We might consider how we can support and safeguard their grieving families and loved ones who are left behind.
- Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL who served—in wartime or peacetime—regardless of whether they died or survived. Veterans Day is always observed officially on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls.
MEMORIAL DAY FACTS AND HISTORY
Traditionally, on Memorial Day (U.S.), people visit cemeteries and memorials, and volunteers often place American flags on each grave site at national cemeteries. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.
The custom of honoring ancestors by cleaning cemeteries and decorating graves is an ancient and worldwide tradition, but the specific origin of Memorial Day—or Decoration Day, as it was first known—is unclear.
In early rural America, this duty was usually performed in late summer and was an occasion for family reunions and picnics. After the Civil War, America’s need for a secular, patriotic ceremony to honor its military dead became prominent, as monuments to fallen soldiers were erected and dedicated, and ceremonies centering on the decoration of soldiers’ graves were held in towns and cities throughout the nation.
After World War I, the day expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.
A Lasting Legacy
No less than 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, and states observed the holiday on different dates. In 1971, Memorial Day became a national holiday by an act of Congress; it is now celebrated annually on the last Monday in May.
Since it all started with the Civil War, you might want to brush up on your knowledge of this event by visiting the Library of Congress Civil War collection, which includes more than a thousand photographs from the time.
THANK YOU TO THE FALLEN.
From everyone here at BAILEY PARK, we would like say thank you to those men and women who paid the ultimate price. We will always remember the sacrifices of our nation’s heroes. We are deeply grateful.
In remembering the fallen, we also honor their loved ones: spouses, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, friends. There really aren’t proper words, but we do live in gratitude each and everyday for the precious gift that they have given to us.