Mixing up Memorial Day and Veterans Day


With Veterans Day next Monday, of you can’t figure out the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, which fell on March 13 this year, then you are not alone.

A recent poll found that more than half or American confused the two, believing that both were the same holiday with two different names.

They are not.

Veterans Day honors the service of all U.S. military veterans while Memorial Day honors those who died in the service of their nation.

Veterans Day was originally proclaimed as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919, to honor the end of World War I.

In his proclamation, President Woodrow Wilson said, “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.”

World War I ended officially at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, many communities hold their Veterans Day memorial service at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11.

In 1945, a World War II veteran named Raymond Weeks had an idea to expand Armistice Day to all veterans, not just those who died in World War I. He took his idea to General Dwight Eisenhower, who was later to become president. Eisenhower support his idea and the name changed to Veterans Day in 1947.

In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill into law officially changing the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

After World War II and through the Korean police action, the day was filled with parades down the Main Streets of the nation.

That ended largely with Vietnam, however, with older veterans dying off or unable to march and with the veterans of Vietnam and later wars not as involved with veterans groups such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Jewish War Veterans.

With Iraq and Afghanistan, however, younger members seem to be joining once again and Veterans Day parades have been renewed in a number of cities and towns.

So, next Monday, give a thought to those who served their nation while others stayed home and watched on television.

Thank a vet for his or her service. It will do you both a lot of good.