It’s Memorial Day, not Veterans Day (and why that distinction is important)


I wrote yesterday about people who are ignorant, perhaps willfully so in some cases, about the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. I even wrote about one case of where someone politicized Memorial Day. I’ll echo what other veterans have said: don’t thank me this weekend. Remember the fallen and thank their families.

Debbie Lee, a Gold Star Mother and founder of America’s Mighty Warriors writes:

You can imagine the pain and frustration to the friends and families of these fallen heroes when the majority of Americans are clueless as to the real meaning of Memorial Day. Our loved ones gave their final breath so that you could enjoy all of the freedoms and blessings that you have in America. All we ask is that as a nation we come together this weekend and acknowledge, honor and remember our heroes.

I have been on a campaign for years trying to educate people about the history and meaning of Memorial Day what it is and what it is not! It is not a time to “Celebrate Memorial day”, it is not “Happy Memorial Day.”  I am sure that ignorance plays a part in the party mentality of the 3-day weekend. We see major advertising about big “blow out” sales, advertisements to “kick off your summer”, prepare for the big bar-b-ques and camping trips and parades. Many families know it marks the end of the school year and the community pools will be opening.

I was part of that ignorant group for years. I wasn’t taught the real meaning of Memorial Day. Oh we visited a few graves through the years and placed flowers on the graves of family members who had died in child-birth, from sickness and different causes. Most of the time it was just a family gathering with picnics and bar-b ques enjoying all of the freedoms that we have but not reflecting on those who paid the ultimate price so we could enjoy them. I was not taught, and I am sorry for the opportunities that were missed to honor our fallen, and focus on the sacrifices made for me.

Often times people mistakenly recognize and thank all of those who have served. Veterans Day is the National Holiday when we do that. I’ve dedicated my life to honoring and thanking our troops 24/7 364 days of the year, but Memorial Day is for those who died in war.

Lee’s son, Marc A. Lee, was a Navy SEAL killed in Iraq in 2006.

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton is an award-winning blogger who has been aggregating and blogging since 1998. He has worked as a reporter, in government, and as a communications professional in Columbia, SC and Washington, DC.

Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.

Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.
Jeff Quinton

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  1. […] There are currently two possible miracles being investigated as part of the cause for Fr. Kapaun’s sainthood. He is also being considered for designation as a martyr. It’s the sacrifice made by men like Father Emil Kapaun that causes many living veterans to get upset when many mistakenly treat Memorial Day as if it is the same as Veterans Day. […]

  2. I agree and wish people would take the time to honor the fallen and thank their families. I don’t however, think we should ever miss an opportunity to thank a Soldier, Sailor, Marine or veteran, or their families for their willingness to put it all on the line for their country. We should be thanking them every day, including Memorial Day. Thank you for your willingness to educate the masses. Let us not, however, neglect the survivors, just because they made it home.

    • How is honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice ignoring the survivors????? Could they not deserve ONE day????????? And here is Jeff! a vet! telling you and it sure sounds to me that thanking veterans on Memorial Day is more about how it makes you feel and less about how it makes them feel.

  3. And yet the Flag Code calls for the flag to be flown at half staff until noon only, then raised to the top. To my mind, this should be the procedure for Veterans Day to honor those no longer with us by half staff till noon, then to honor living veterans by raising the flag at noon. Memorial Day should be half staff ALL day to honor those who gave their all in combat.
    Just my opinion, but I do agree about Memorial Day and correct those (respectfully of course) who thank me today.

  4. Memorial Day Veterans Day are one in the same. I try to take the time to thank those that are survivors and if i come across someone with fallen family member i thank them as well. All who serve and protect our rights and our freedom deserve our thanks. So thank you!!

    • Then you’re doing it wrong. I’m being charitable and not writing what I’m actually thinking right now. If Veterans Day and Memorial Day were all the same they wouldn’t be separate holidays.

  5. I was fortunate enough to have been raised by a Navy veteran and I do know the difference. May the souls of all our faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

  6. Sorry for Mrs. Lee’s loss too many don’t know the difference until a family member joins the ranks of the fallen. Parents should start demanding programs on Veterans Day at school that give understanding. A few of the scouting programs in our area do but not the schools anymore but they used to. Around here school is all ready out by Memorial Day.

  7. There are a lot of veterans alive today that bear the scars of war. These are physical and emotional and they may end or significantly shorten their life. The pain the bear should not be diminished just because they didn’t die on the battlefield. If we can take the time to thank them when they’re alive, we should. My father was one of these. Two tours in Vietnam – he didn’t die there, but he battle with his ghosts till he died at 47 years old.

    I remember, but I also celebrate the day by spending time with my family. I empathize with the families who didn’t have the years after the war to spend with their family member, but let’s not worry about whether it’s Veteran’s day or Memorial Day…thank a Vet (or Active Duty)…you don’t know what he or she has seen and you don’t know if you won’t have the chance to thank them come Veteran’s Day.