Hey folks,

Just a quick reminder that today is not Veteran’s Day. It’s Memorial Day.

A lot of you are out there making that mistake. I haven’t kept count on the number of times I’ve heard people make references to veterans, or talk about celebrating veterans, or what have you. Sadly, I think even if I had tried, I would have lost count.

Memorial Day is intended for us to reflect, honor, and yes, mourn those that made the ultimate sacrifice in service of their country. It’s not for the living veteran, it’s for the dead soldier.

This isn’t a simple matter of semantics. It’s an important distinction owed not just for the sake of preserving the original intent of the holiday, but for those families of soldiers that have someone missing at their annual cookout.


7 Responses to It’s Memorial Day, Not Veteran’s Day

  1. Roger Green says:

    Actually, That’s why I posted what I did today; very misunderstood.

  2. Go back to Russia commie!!!!!

  3. J Eric Smith says:

    Re:  It’s not for the living veteran, it’s for the dead soldier.

    I understand where you’re coming from . . . but as a living veteran myself, I don’t mind the confusion on my behalf or the behalf of other veterans, because all of us swore the oath and all of us put ourselves in harm’s way, so it’s only a matter of “there but for the grace of” that some of us are here today, and some of us aren’t. So today, I mourn my Naval Academy classmates who died in service to our country, and the fathers of my childhood friends on the Marine Corps bases I grew up on who didn’t come home from Vietnam, and all the Marines who died in Beirut where my dad was once the executive officer of the amphibious unit there, and countless others . . . but I also honor those who served nobly and came home, and I don’t think I or anybody else should be corrected if we opt to remember and honor those folks today . . . just as on Veteran’s Day, I will remember and honor both the living and the dead, too. A sensitive subject, I know . . . but I think it’s wrong to dismiss people who choose to honor living soldiers, airman, sailors and Marines today, just as they honor those who have fallen. Food for thought, from someone who spent a good chunk of the day on various mailing lists and LISTSERVs celebrating both the living and the dead who I served with . . .

    • kevinmarshall says:

      but I think it’s wrong to dismiss people who choose to honor living soldiers, airman, sailors and Marines today, just as they honor those who have fallen. “

      Gotta disagree with you here. You’re applying and assuming an intent that isn’t necessarily there.

      I don’t think it’s wrong to point out to them what Memorial Day is, because there’s genuine ignorance and confusion with Veterans Day. It’s not that they’re honoring those who served and remembering the fallen, but rather that they’re just doing the former and omitting the latter. I don’t think there’s anything wrong at all with noting the distinction.

      • J Eric Smith says:

        Except that noting that distinction can sound churlish when it comes from a living veteran . . . I had someone shake my hand on Monday and say “Thanks for your service.” Should I have told him that he needed to wait until November to do so, since I’m not dead yet? Again . . . I understand where you’re coming from, but there are a lot of shades of gray when it comes to who serves their country vs. who dies for their country. Another real world example: one classmate and friend of mine was a reservist who was called up and then died in Iraq when he was shot by a handgun from the ground while landing his helicopter. Another friend of mine was a career naval officer who, while still on active duty, died of a heart attack while shoveling his sidewalk. I also lost three classmates who just went to work on September 11, 2001, and died when a plane crashed into the Pentagon (two were on the ground, one was on the plane). So which of those guys do we honor on Memorial Day? I’m not trying to be flip in asking that question, but I deal with these sorts of “Who gets the honors?” questions a lot in my role as an officer with the Naval Academy Alumni Association, and I stand by my position in my earlier comment that anyone who chooses to honor a military veteran, dead or alive, whenever and for whatever reason, should be accorded a “thank you” in response, not an explanation as to why their honor is somehow incorrect. This probably sounds sanctimonious, and I apologize to you and your readers for that, but this is something that I feel very, very strongly about . . . and the artifice of saying, in the 21st Century, that some things are only appropriate for a holiday that dates to the post-Civil War era, while other things are only appropriate for a holiday that dates to the post-WWI era just doesn’t ring right with me . . . but I also understand that’s probably a product of my upbringing and training, and I am probably an outlier in both of those regards.

  4. Roger Green says:

    Oh, and I should note: it’s Veterans Day, with NO punctuation.  http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/

  5. Eric Zasada says:

    Kevin, you’re very astute and absolutely right. However, what holiday hasn’t been bastardized in some way or another in the USA? At least in this case, people are showing respect, adoration, and gratitude towards other people, who completely deserve it. That is a thing that is sorely lacking in many of the other holidays that we celebrate. 

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