Are you like many Americans who often confuse Veterans Day and Memorial Day? Has Memorial Day become just another day off for you like so many holidays? Have you ever asked yourself, “why do we celebrate Memorial Day and Veterans Day? Well, I believe the question is worth addressing based on the many well wishes I see on social media.
Anyone who knows me know I consume a lot of news, mostly from CNN. I found this 2010 article by Lisa Respers France that was recently updated, Get it straight: The difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. In her article she states, “Inevitably, someone says something demonstrating confusion over the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day”. The article very simply explains, “Memorial Day is the holiday set aside to pay tribute to those who died serving in the military… Veterans Day is the holiday set aside to honor all who have served in the military.” [emphasis added by me].
The start of Memorial Day according to the Department of Veterans Affairs website states, “Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.” The passage of the National Holiday Act of 1971 by Congress made it an official holiday. I hope you will check it out here before you discount history as fake news.
I’m a living veterans and I declare, 2 Corinthians 4:9, “persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (NIV). I proudly served but I completed service without paying the ultimate sacrifice–I made it out alive. Those of us who are living appreciate all the Happy Memorial Day” wishes so don’t get me wrong. But we made it out alive! So today, I like so many other living veterans pause to give honor–not receive it. Today, I answer my why I remember with “because I’m proud to be an American”. I answer the who do I remember with: “all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice”. For me no one sums it up better than Lee Greenwood in the lyrics of “Proud To Be An American“. As you listen to and watch this YouTube video, pay close attention to the following lyrics:
I’d thank my lucky stars,
And I’m proud to be an American,
Back to Webster’s definition of memorial, because now that we remember there is another question. How will you preserve your remembrance? Go ahead, enjoy the barbecue, I will too. But don’t forget to pray and ask God to bless the USA. Listen closely to the lyrics in the video which says:
From Detroit down to Houston,
That I’m proud to be an American,
And I gladly stand up,
Happy Memorial Day!