Memorial Day vs. Veterans Day: When is each, why is it celebrated?

Updated May 23, 2018
Alex Brandon/AP
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Ellis with the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), places a flag at a headstone of U.S. Army Col. Kurdish Bharucha-Reid for "Flags In," at Arlington National Cemetery, Thursday, May 25, 2017 in Arlington, Va. The soldiers are placing nearly a quarter of a million American flags at the headstones in the cemetery in a Memorial Day tradition. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between Memorial Day and Veterans Day, apparently you’re not alone. No less an authority than the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says people frequently confuse the two holidays.

Make no mistake about it: Both are incredibly important holidays, with their common focus on Americans who’ve served in the military. The key distinction: Memorial Day “is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle,” the VA says.

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While Veterans Day also honors the dead, it is “the day set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime.”

Here’s a guide to each holiday:


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Veterans Day is a time to honor the sacrifice of those who are in or have served in the military. Tell us about the veterans in your life. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Combat and non-combat In the comments, attach photos and tell us something about them. Thank you for your service and Happy Veterans Day