Memorial Day v Veterans Day

Big Red Car here on a quiet Sunday morning. Tomorrow is Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is different than Veterans Day.

Let the Big Red Car explain the difference. This is why we have Memorial Day.

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Texas Military Cemetery near Fort Hood with the Hill Country in the background, decorated for Christmas.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, started in 1868 and was a celebration initiated by the Grand Army of the Republic, Union veterans from Decatur, Illinois, as a day to decorate the graves of Union war dead with flowers.

In the South (obviously the South was not celebrating Union war dead), it was often celebrated with a “dinner on the grounds” which gave rise to the tradition of Memorial Day picnics.

Through the years, it spread throughout the country until it was standardized as the last Monday in May as a remembrance of all American war dead. The day is to honor men and women who died in service to their country.

Every national cemetery is decorated with flags at the grave of each dead soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman. It is an ironclad tradition.

Flags at Arlington Cemetery

Paratrooper installing flags at Arlington Cemetery. Note the 82nd Airborne Division patch on the soldier’s right shoulder indicating he saw action with that division in combat. DEATH FROM ABOVE!

It is a day to visit a national cemetery or wherever a dead soldier is interred and to honor them by paying your respects.

Veterans Day

Veterans Day came into being as Armistice Day which celebrated the end of hostilities in World War I, which was the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

The original intent of Armistice Day was to honor World War I veterans.

In 1945, a veteran from Alabama, Raymond Weeks, suggested it be expanded to include all veterans. The first such national celebration was held in 1947 in Alabama.

Weeks received the Presidential Citizenship Medal in 1982 from President Reagan for his efforts in making Veterans Day a national holiday. He is known as the “Father of Veterans Day.”

It was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

The day is spelled Veterans Day without an apostrophe on purpose. It is not a day “of” veterans. It is a day “for” veterans to be honored.

What to do and what not to do on Memorial Day

Take a minute and speculate on what it has cost to preserve our freedoms as a nation. Consider the sacrifice that men and women have made for all of us and our nation. Think about your family members who made the ultimate sacrifice. Consider the life you have lived and know what they have missed.

Watch a parade. Doff your hat when the flag goes by. Put your hand over your heart when the flag goes by.

Go to a national cemetery and walk the hallowed grounds in reverent silence.

Bring your loved ones together and speak for a moment as to the cost of our freedoms and thank God that we live in the United States.

Bow your head and say a prayer for those who died.

Have or go to a picnic but take a minute to honor our war dead.

Know that for those who lost a loved one, every day of their life is Memorial Day. Respect their loss and try to comfort them.

RNPS IMAGES OF THE YEAR 2010 - Monica McNeal (R) cries as she hugs a U.S. Marine at the grave (L) of her 19-year-old son Eric Ward, at Arlington National Cemetery, May 27, 2010. Lance Corporal Eric Ward, a fourth-generation U.S. Marine, was killed in Afghanistan on February 21, 2010. The United States is commemorating Memorial Day this weekend. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY IMAGES OF THE DAY)

A mother at the grave her 19-year-old son at Arlington National Cemetery. Lance Corporal Eric Ward, a fourth-generation U.S. Marine, was killed in Afghanistan on February 21, 2010. Godspeed, Marine.

Please do not thank veterans for their service. Memorial Day is a day to honor war dead not living veterans. Even veterans are honoring their mates who were killed.

Today, if you live in the South, you can start wearing white until Labor Day, y’all.

A grateful nation mourns its war dead today. Godspeed, good and faithful warriors.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car.cropped-LTFD-illust_300.png