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What exactly is the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

A flower and two American flags are left at the base of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall on Veterans Day on November 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. Veterans Day is when Americans honor those who served the country in the Armed Forces. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall contains 58,320 names of those who gave their lives during the conflict in Vietnam. It was designed by Maya Lin and was completed in 1982. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
A flower and two American flags are left at the base of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall on Veterans Day on November 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. Veterans Day is when Americans honor those who served the country in the Armed Forces. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall contains 58,320 names of those who gave their lives during the conflict in Vietnam. It was designed by Maya Lin and was completed in 1982. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images) (2020 Getty Images)

Veterans Day and Memorial Day: Both of these holidays celebrate the brave men and women who protect our country, but is there a difference between the two days?

You might think that they’re essentially the same, but you’d likely be surprised to learn they are not.

When you think about it, the differences are actually quite simple. Memorial Day is a holiday to remember and celebrate all of the men and women who have died in combat to protect our freedoms, and Veterans Day is a day to honor those who have retired from our armed services.

According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Memorial Day unofficially started in 1868 when flowers were put on gravestones of those who lost their lives in the Civil War. It’s believed that it happened toward the end of May so that the flowers would be in full bloom.

It wasn’t until 1971 that Memorial Day became an official holiday, thanks to Congress. It is always observed on the last Monday in the month of May.

Veterans Day is always Nov. 11.

According to the same site, Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, and it fell on Nov. 11 because that was the unofficial end of World War I, one of the deadliest wars ever.

It wasn’t until after World War II that Congress removed the word “Armistice” and instead opted for Veterans Day, so that no matter what war someone fought in, they would be honored on this special day.

It seems like we still honor those who lost their lives and those who didn’t on each of these special holidays, but now you officially know the difference between the two.

Now, just don’t forget to thank the veteran in your life today.


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