Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day are both national holidays. Do you know the difference between Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day? Believe it or not, there are many people who do not know the difference. Let’s take a minute to dissect both to help us to understand the differences between the two holidays and their importance.
Why do we celebrate Veteran’s Day?
On November 11, 1938, twenty years after WW1 had ended, the United States government passed legislation, the Act of 1938, to make November 11 a national holiday. This holiday was called Armistice Day. It was a day set aside to honor World War 1 veterans, those who served in that war.
Once the United States had been through World War 2 as well as the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the Act of 1938 by taking out “Armistice” and replaced it with the word “Veteran’s.” This was approved on June 1, 1954. From that on Veteran’s Day was a national holiday to honor all American veterans of all wars and service.
There was a little confusion in 1968 when Veteran’s Day was moved to the fourth Monday in October to ensure a three day holiday for government employees. Some people still celebrated it on November 11. On September 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed a law that placed Veteran’s Day back to its original date of November 11th. This day of celebration would begin on November 11, 1978.
Veteran’s Day usually celebrated on November 11 unless it falls on a Saturday, then it is observed on the Friday before, November 10th. It was set aside to honor the men and women who served and are serving honorably in our United States military during war and peacetime. Although it is fine to honor those who have given their life while serving our country on this day, it is important to remember and honor those who are living who served and are serving in our military.
Many holidays have symbols and Veteran’s Day is no different. The symbol for Veteran’s Day in the U.S. and other countries is the red poppy flower. Due to some more recent political differences with this symbol, some use the white poppy to focus on peace and not the red for blood of war.
What is Memorial Day?
Decoration Day was established on May 5, 1868, three years after the Civil War ended. On that day people could decorate the graves of those that served in the Civil War with flowers. Many had already been doing so for a couple fo years in the nation. The date of May 30th was most likely chosen because flowers would be in bloom across the entire country allowing all to participate in this day.
Many states claimed to have a started Memorial Day, an observance day to honor those who had died in military service, but in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared Waterloo, New York to be the birthplace of Memorial Day to celebrate those who had died in the Civil War. It wasn’t until after World War 1 that people were encouraged to honor those who had died in service for all the U.S. wars. Memorial Day was declared a national holiday in 1971 and placed on the last Monday in May.
Memorial Day is a day set aside for the honoring of those men and women who have died in battle or from wounds received in battle from all wars in which United States fought. In 2000, the time of 3:00 p.m. was set aside for a time that all Americans can stop what they are doing for a few minutes to think about those who had fallen in battle. It is very common to see the U.S. flag flown at half mast until evening to honor the dead soldiers.
It is important for us adults to teach our young people and children about our past history. It is also important for us to teach them to honor those who have given their life for freedom and for those who have served or are currently serving our country to keep our freedoms. Freedom is not free.
Fun activities for the kids
In addition to many crafts that can be found on Pinterest, I have created a set of activities for children that focuses on both holidays. It can be found in my TpT shop here https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Memorial-Day-and-Veterans-Day-Activities-7408780 .
Here are the pages included in this activity set:
- Poppy coloring page
- Veteran’s Day coloring page
- “Thank You” letter template
- Memorial Day coloring page
- “Remember a Soldier” short report template
I hope these resources are a help to you and your family as you celebrate these two holidays to honor our fallen heroes as well as those who served and still serve our country today.