Both Memorial Day and Veterans Day are federal government holidays that honor American military personnel. However, one honors all past and present American veterans, and the other is set aside to remember specifically those who have died in battle.
Here’s the history of each holiday and a breakdown of the differences between them:
Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May, which in 2011 falls on May 30. The day is predominantly for honoring and remembering military personnel who died while in the military service, particularly those who died in combat or as a result of injuries sustained during battle.
Memorial Day was originally celebrated under a different name. After the Civil War ended in 1865, people began dedicating certain days to placing flowers on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers who had died in the war . In 1868, former Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the head of an organization of Union veterans, established May 30 as Decoration Day. The holiday’s name was formally changed to Memorial Day in 1882.
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