November 11 marks Veterans Day — and Remembrance Day. If you are in the United States, you are commemorating the former. If you are from Canada, you are observing the latter. However, there is also Armistice Day and Memorial Day. Are all of these celebrations one and the same?
If they’re not the same thing, how are these events different?
Setting things straight
Let’s have a rundown of these four celebrations and see for ourselves how they are similar and different from one another:
Veterans Day is a US federal holiday. Usually, it falls on November 11. If November 11 is on a weekend, the holiday will be designated as either the preceding Friday or the succeeding Monday. November 11 is significant because it marks the day when the armed forces ceased fighting in World War 1; At exactly 11 AM on 11 November 1918—”the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”—the armistice took effect.
Veterans Day recognizes all veterans who served the nation of all wars — living or dead.
Remembrance Day is also a memorial day that marks the end of hostilities during World War 1. It is generally observed in Commonwealth member states to honour the members of their armed forces who died during military service. In Canada, Remembrance Day is a federal statutory holiday.
This day is also informally known as Poppy Day. Red poppies have long been used to symbolise those who have lost their lives in wars and conflicts. This is because poppies are the flowers which grew on the battlefields after World War 1. This was also immortalised in the famous poem “In Flanders Fields”.
Armistice Day is simply another name for Remembrance Day. At some point, Veterans Day was also called Armistice Day. During World War 2, many countries changed the name of this memorial. Commonwealth countries adopted Remembrance Day while the USA used Veterans Day. In 1954, the 83rd US Congress amended the Act of 1398 to change the name of the celebration to Veterans Day.
Memorial Day is a US holiday celebrated during the Last Monday of May. It honors those who died during their military service. It is a completely distinct holiday from Veterans Day which honours all who have served in the military.
Now that it is all cleared up, we can see that at the very core, all these holidays are intended to remind us to acknowledge and honour the service of the military who have courageously served us both in the time of war and time of peace. Let this also be a reminder that there are no winners in war and that we should always strive to preserve peace at all cost.