Veterans Day 2014: What is it and how does it differ from Memorial Day?

The official federal holiday honours all those who have served in the military

Antonia Molloy
Monday 10 November 2014 13:33
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Members of the United States Armed Forces
Members of the United States Armed Forces

Across the world tomorrow, people will come together to commemorate those who have lost their lives in war, as well as those who continue to serve in the Armed Forces.

Here in the UK, a two minute silence will be observed at 11am to mark the anniversary of the end of the First World War in 1918 - on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

The commemorative gesture follows yesterday’s Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph, which saw the Queen leading the nation in honouring those who have died fighting for their country.

Across the pond in the US 11 November marks Veterans Day. This is what it means:

What is Veterans Day?
It is an official holiday in the United States that honours those who have served and continue to serve in America's Armed Forces.

When is it?
Veterans Day falls on 11 November – the anniversary of the official end of the First World War in 1918. As such it was originally known as Armistice Day, but in 1954 the name was changed in order to commemorate American veterans of all wars.

How is it observed?
It is a federal holiday so many people have the day off work or school. If Veterans Day falls on a weekend, the federal government is generally closed on the preceding Friday or following Monday.

Parades and ceremonies are held across the US. In Washington DC the Concert for Valour is scheduled to take place at the National Mall, with the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Eminem performing as a tribute to US veterans.

How does it differ from Memorial Day?
Memorial Day is a federal holiday held on the last Monday of May. The key difference is that while both days honour and remember those who have died fighting for their country, Veterans Day thanks and honours every single individual who has served in the military, both in peacetime and wartime.

In particular, Veterans Day honours the living, thanking them for their continued work and sacrifice.

Are poppies worn?
People generally wear poppies on Memorial Day, not Veterans Day. The poet John McCrae first used the flowers as a symbol of sacrifice in his poem In Flanders’ Fields and they have since become a lasting way of remembering the fallen.

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