Q: Would you please explain the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day? Growing up, Memorial Day was devoted to honoring deceased relatives and friends, as well as beautifying cemeteries. Now both Memorial and Veterans Days are dedicated to the military.
—Hank Collier, Dunwoody
A: Memorial Day, which is observed on the final Monday in May, was set aside to remember men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Veterans Day, which is observed every Nov. 11, was created to honor all of “America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good,” according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day for the practice of decorating graves, was created after the Civil War as a day to remember those who died in that conflict. Cities began holding ceremonies to decorate graves and honor the war dead until a national day was designated on May 30, 1868. It became an official national holiday in 1971. Veterans Day originally was Armistice Day, which was created by Congress in 1926 to mark the end of World War I. After World War II and the Korean War, President Dwight Eisenhower, by presidential proclamation, changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954, stating: “On that day, let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”
Andy Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (include name, phone and city).