Happy November, Brethren,
Last weekend I passed by a cellphone store and saw this “Military & Veterans plan” advertisement. It reminded me that Veteran’s Day is coming. The respect Americans show to their military personnel has really amazed me. People call those who have served in the military “heroes” and never fail to appreciate them for their services.
There are two major holidays dedicated to those who have served in our armed forces – the Memorial Day in May and the Veteran’s Day in November. I always confused them. It appears to me that people celebrate both days with barbecues and music festivals to honor those who have served in the military. So what’s the difference? This year I decided to do some research. And I found out these two holidays are made for whole different purposes.
Veteran’s Day, formerly called Armistice Day, commemorates the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918, that officially ended World War I. That war was called “the war to end all wars,” but we all know it turned out to be sadly inaccurate. Veteran’s Day is a day to thank and honor those who have served in our military. It is the day to thank your veteran friends and families for their service.
Memorial Day dates back to the Civil War, in which an unimaginable 620,000 soldiers were killed. For perspective, that’s about the same number of people that live in Anaheim, Fullerton, Placentia, and Yorba Linda together today, a death toll huge enough to force the creation of national cemeteries.
The holiday used to be called Decoration Day because many people would spend the day placing decorations and flags on the graves of fallen soldiers. The name was changed in 1971, perhaps because so many of the fallen in the Vietnam War could not be brought home, and have no graves to decorate.
To most of us those two holidays seem the same. But to many veterans, they are significantly different. Memorial Day is for remembering and honoring those who never had the chance to become veterans. That one day a year is all they and their loved ones have left. So I figured. Don’t treat Memorial Day as a day to honor our troops currently serving in the military. It’s not a day for them. As the word “Memorial” tells us, it’s a day for remembering and honoring those who sacrificed their lives in battle and are no longer among us.
But for every other day, especially the upcoming Veteran’s Day, let us thank our veterans and support our troops.
Yungfan “Philip” Liu, 32°