What's The Difference Between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day?

What's The Difference Between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day?

| May 31, 2021
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Today is Memorial Day, and it’s not all about having a vacation day to celebrate with picnics and bbq’s with family and friends.  There is a history to both days--while they both involve our military, they give celebration, focus, and remembrance to different groups. 

What’s the Difference?

I have to always look it up to remind myself exactly who is honored on this day, as I tend to get it confused with Veteran’s Day.  Our military does so much for our country, and I just want to make sure I get it right!

Memorial Day

Memorial day is about honoring and remembering those soldiers who have lost their lives while serving in our military and protecting our freedom. 

  • Celebrated on the last Monday of May.
  • In 1971, it was declared a national holiday.
  • Originally known as Decoration Day, and was to honor Union soldiers during the Civil War.
  • Commonly we celebrate this day by visiting cemeteries, hold parades and family gatherings.

Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s day honors our military veterans – living or dead-- who have served their country in the United States Armed Forces and were not discharged under dishonorable conditions.

  • Celebrated annually on November 11th.
  • Originally known as Armistice Day to honor the end of World War I (November 11, 1918).
  • A recent common practice (since the Vietnam War) is for living soldiers to pay their respects is to lay pennies on gravestones of soldiers as a sense of remembrance.
    • Leaving a nickel meant they trained in boot camp together.
    • Leaving a dime meant they served together.
    • Leaving a quarter meant they were with the fallen soldier when he/she was killed.


Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day both have their place in our country’s history and its people.  Hopefully these tips help you keep these two honorable holidays straight!

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