Happy Veteran’s Day! And a big thanks to everyone in our military who are serving or have served.

This post is a little out of character for me, since it’s not about money or productivity.

It is, however, about an important topic.

As an active duty military member, I have had many people ask me what the difference is between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  People often get them mixed up, or think they’re basically the same holiday.  They’re not.

I just want to take some time to explain the difference between the two holidays, and to explain what a veteran is…

What is a Veteran?

Let’s start here: What is a veteran?

  • Is a veteran someone who fought in a war?
  • Is a veteran someone who has served in the military in the past?
  • Is a veteran someone who serves in the military currently?

The answer is: yes.  All of the above.

A veteran is anyone who has served or is currently serving.  In fact, the Veterans Administration, who obviously provides services for veterans, only requires that you serve one day to qualify for benefits.

So there you have it.  Now you know what a veteran is.  Most people don’t.

Thank you for your service?

Do you say “thank you for your service?” to veterans? If I go somewhere in uniform, it’s almost a guarantee that someone is going to come up and thank me for serving. Many military members say they don’t know how to respond or what to say back. Some say “thanks for your support”, others say “you’re welcome”. So what exactly are you thanking military members for? You’re thanking them for their dedication to our country – for the sacrifices they make with their family – and the list goes on. But nobody really knows what to say when you thank them for their service. So next time you see a veteran, it will make them feel less awkward if you say something like “I appreciate your sacrifices” or “I appreciate your service”. That way we can simply say “thank you”. Either way, we always appreciate being appreciated.

Memorial Day and Veterans Day

So what’s the difference between these two holidays?  Aren’t they both just days to hangout, drink beer and barbecue.  Well, those are all very fun things, and well worth doing, but believe it or not, neither of these holidays are about having a barbecue.

Who knew?

Straight from the Veterans Administration:

Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served – not only those who died – have sacrificed and done their duty.

Memorial Day is specifically set aside to honor our fallen brothers and sisters.  Veterans Day is for all veterans.

Veterans Day Facts

Here are a few interesting facts about Veterans Day:

  • Veterans Day is derived from Armistice Day, commemorating the end of the First World War, November 11, 1918.
  • Veterans Day was among the holidays moved to Mondays beginning in 1971, Congress in 1978 restored the holiday to its original November 11 date, because the date is an important part of the holiday.
  • There is a Veteran’s Day ceremony each year at the Tomb of the Unknowns in the Arlington National Cemetery
  • When World War I ended, it end on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
  • “Veterans Day” is the correct way to write/type it, not “Veteran’s Day” or “Veterans’ Day”, because it does not belong to veterans, it’s a day for honoring veterans.

Finally, if you want to get involved with helping veterans, here’s some steps you can take:

ways to support veterans infographic