As much as I am ashamed to admit, yesterday I drew a complete blank when asked the question, “What are we celebrating today anyway?” My friend and I briefly discussed what we thought Memorial Day might be about – we at least knew it was a day honoring those who had or still do serve in our nation’s military – and then we pondered what made this day different from Veteran’s Day. After a little research, and in case you didn’t already know, here is a short history of both.
Memorial Day was in the beginning known as “Decoration Day” and it honors those people who have died in service to our country. Its orgins date back to scattered, organic celebrations of rememberance in numerous towns during the Civil War. General John Logan declared it an official holiday in early May of 1868 and in its modern form we observe it on the last Monday of May.
Veteran’s Day, also known as “Armistice Day” dates back to World War I and celebrates the day that fighting ceased in Europe when the armistice went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The Treaty of Versailles, signed over seven months later, officially ended the war. Originally, and as Armistice Day, the holiday celebrated the end of the most vicious, destructive, and deadly war known. After World War II however and continuing through the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and into modern times the holiday has morphed into a celebration of veterans who served in all wars.
So as far as I can tell, Memorial Day is a day where we honor those who sacrificed themselves in battle. We buy red poppy flowers, fly the flag, and remember those soldiers and their families. On Veteran’s Day we celebrate the sacrifices of those who served and lived to tell about it, not just those who died for their country.
Regardless of the date, the war, or the duration we here at Professional Medical would like to thank all those men, women, and families who choose to serve in spite of the probable consequences.
Sources: http://www.usmemorialday.org and www1.va.gov