Veterans Day isn’t Memorial Day

Nor is it Armed Forces Day.

Inspired by various conversations on Twitter and Facebook, your semi-annual reminder:

Given that the reason we honor military service on three separate observances, two of which are Federal holidays, because of the risk of dying in combat, it’s understandable that the streams get crossed. People want to thank veterans for their service on Memorial Day and remember the fallen on Veterans Day. That’s fine insofar as it goes, as those are appropriate sentiments every day of the year. But it confuses the occasions.

 

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Cheryl Rofer says:

    The people who changed Armistice Day into Veterans’ Day, and pretty much all the other holidays into “Veterans’ Day” are the ones to blame.

  2. James Joyner says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Could be. Although, ironically, we’ve turned Veterans Day into Memorial Day. People are complaining that Trump isn’t at Arlington National Cemetary today. Why would he be?

  3. Cheryl Rofer says:

    @James Joyner: No, some of us are observing Armistice Day. And Trump or his people set up that appearance at Arlington National Cemetery. I suspect that his absence has little to do with your concerns about a commemoration that should never have been changed.

  4. James Joyner says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: Celebrating the end of a war that almost no one could tell you the cause of seems silly at this stage. We don’t have a holiday for V-E or V-J Day, and we have living veterans of those conflicts. We’ve been celebrating Veterans Day since 1954–eleven years longer than I’ve been alive and I’m not a young man.

  5. Scott says:

    To add confusion to everybody’s days, November 11th is Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth remembering the dead.

  6. Cheryl Rofer says:

    @James Joyner: Not celebrating, remembering how destructive wars that nobody knows the cause of can be. That’s what our European allies were doing in very moving ways. It was quite jarring to watch that and then the mindless “Happy Veterans’ Day!”

    But yes, American Exceptionalism.

    10
  7. MarkedMan says:

    Regardless of the nuances of Veterans Day, it is certainly true that President’s have almost always participated in some ceremony commemorating veterans on this day. Trump will not. He also, as is well known, skipped the visit to commemorate veterans at the American Soldiers Cemetary in Europe. Less well known, he also skipped the joint walk down the Champs de Lysee to the Arc de Triomphe. In that last one, he turned his back on nearly 40 allied leaders and instead acted in concert with Vladimir Putin, the only other leader to not walk. Later this week he is skipping both the ASEAN and APEC summit. Given his post mid-term behavior, I suspect he is having a post election temper tantrum and his minions are trying to keep him from having a melt down in public. With Trump, this could be as easy as telling him there is nothing on his schedule.

  8. Jen says:

    I have British friends and family members, so Remembrance Day is what they recognize, and many of them are old enough to remember post-WWII shortages and stories about WWI, so the link between remembering the dead, honoring those who serve, and the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI do get bundled up in my head. While I know the difference (my father served), I’m also very aware of the prevalence of red poppies of remembrance around this time of year.

  9. James Joyner says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: We have Memorial Day for that purpose; it’s just not today (or, technically, yesterday).

  10. MarkedMan says:

    You know, this type of thing expresses my frustration with our news media. A good source of news should make it their mission to know what their audience is confused about, and make it a point to help them understand. What is Memorial/Veterans/Armistice day is something that is worth explaining every year. Fox News is infamous for the fact that people who watch it regularly are actually more wrong about factual information than people that don’t have any source of news at all. But while I concede that virtually all other major news sources manage to get on the positive side of that equation, I suspect it’s not by very much…

  11. Pylon says:

    @Jen: Also Remembrance Day in the Great White North.

  12. Teve says:

    Tammy Duckworth

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    Today is my Alive Day, the anniversary of the day I almost died but didn’t. On this day 14 years ago, an RPG tore through the cockpit of the helicopter I was flying over Iraq, taking my legs and partial use of my right arm with it.

    7:01 AM – 12 Nov 2018

    Tammy Duckworth

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    I was quite literally in pieces, but my buddies risked their lives and refused to leave me behind. Every day I think about what they did for me and what I can do to repay them. Making sure I don’t let them down is what drives me to do everything I can for our Veterans and troops.

    455 replies 2,828 retweets 18,851 likes
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  13. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    Celebrating the end of a war that almost no one could tell you the cause of seems silly at this stage.

    It’s a war that everyone agrees was stupid and pointless, but which everyone also knows about. It’s the right time to reflect upon the costs of war, and whether it is worth it.

    We should move Memorial Day to Armistace Day, and move Veterans Day to the spring. Spring is for life, and a dark rainy November day is better to remember death.

    It would clear up a lot of the confusion. And it means that we would be celebrating Rememberance Day along with our allies.

  14. dmhlt says:

    The Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, MO commemorated the 100th anniversary of the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” by projecting over 5,000 giant poppies on its Tower and Base and part of their “Peace and Remembrance” observance.
    It was incredibly impressive:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cruqUFzBrDI
    More information can be found here:
    https://www.dailykos.com/blog/dmhlt%2066/

  15. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher:

    We should move Memorial Day to Armistace Day, and move Veterans Day to the spring. Spring is for life, and a dark rainy November day is better to remember death.

    It would clear up a lot of the confusion. And it means that we would be celebrating Rememberance Day along with our allies.

    I wouldn’t object to that, although it would be somewhat odd to flip-flop them some 65 years after the fact. We’ve been celebrating Veterans Day on 11/11 since early in Eisenhower’s presidency.