Remembrance Day vs. Veterans Day

Both Remembrance Day and Veterans Day are celebrated on November 11, but they mark very different occasions and have very different tones to them.

Remembrance Day (also known as Armistice Day) marks the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” of 1918 that World War I officially ended and is observed by most countries who fought in the war, including the Commonwealth nations.  I know in the U.K., the main commemoration involving the Royal Family and other dignitaries includes two minutes of silence at 11:00 at the Cenotaph at Whitehall, and the other ceremonies throughout the nation happen on Remembrance Sunday, the Sunday closest to the 11th.

Last year, to honor each life lost within the British Empire during the Great War, an installment of 888,246 ceramic red poppies was displayed around the moat of the Tower of London. "Tower of London Poppy" by JeyHan - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tower_of_London_Poppy.jpg#/media/File:Tower_of_London_Poppy.jpg
Last year, to honor each life lost within the British Empire during the Great War, an installment of 888,246 ceramic red poppies was displayed around the moat of the Tower of London. It was the 100th anniversary of the start of the war.  Red poppies have come to symbolize Remembrance Day because of the poem, In Flanders Fields by John McCrae.  The Royal British Legion adopted it as a symbol in 1921.  “Tower of London Poppy” by JeyHan – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Over here, Veterans Day is a different thing entirely. It is a day that honors those who have served in the armed forces, living or dead. Wartime, peacetime…it doesn’t matter. So, if you signed on the dotted line, it’s your day. That is why you will see lots of memes on Facebook thanking veterans today from the Americans.  Because we have Memorial Day on Bank Holiday weekend in May to honor those we lost, it’s a lot less somber than Remembrance Day.

Case in point, this is what The Boffin told me this morning.

“Happy Veterans Day! Go find some free shit.”

Yes, businesses here give veterans stuff for free on Veterans Day.  Here is what I can get locally and some national deals.

I also found out I can get a free tall cup of coffee from Starbucks.  Like the vast majority of Americans, I don’t care what color the cup is.  I’ll just take a Sharpie and draw Stars of David on it.  Or not, because the coffee tastes like water brewed through compost.

So it’s the same date, but different days.  However, it is all down to honoring our troops, and I appreciate them in whatever way they served and are still serving.  Thank you, all of you.

10 thoughts on “Remembrance Day vs. Veterans Day

  1. How very interesting! same date, different celebrations. It’s strange that WW I is still being commemorated, with all the in-between wars there have been since. It’s a date that’s stayed with me from my French schools, it used to be a well-timed holiday in mid-Autumn! I do like the idea of Veterans Day – sounds positive to acknowledge and honor them … whatever the coffee’s actually like 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes there are two days really – the closest Sunday to November 11th the UK commemorates all members of the forces that died. Originally it was those that died in WW1, but then after WW2 it was all the wars, then later it became any conflict. We have two minutes silence on that day. On Armistace Day on 11th, everyone carries out their normal day, but in many places of work they stop for 2 minutes silence at 11am to remember all those who sacrificed their lives in WW1. In some towns the trains and buses stop too. It is extraordinarily quiet. It has replaced an historic type of remembering the dead before all the winter celebrations start. Christmas lights usually get turned on in towns after today.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you for all these details. I like the “extraordinary quiet”, and “remembering the dead before all the winter celebrations start”. The relationship of human communities to war memorials is fascinating from a sociological point of view …

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I went to see the poppies around the Tower of London last year, and it was one of the most moving memorials I have ever seen and really put the wars and lives lost into perspective. I also thing the day is more somber in the UK because both world wars were a lot closer to home.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I wish I had the chance to see it myself. I can imagine how moving it was. In the States, even though we lost loved ones, we never had our country ravaged by war (unless we live in Hawaii). So it all seems so abstract to us until we live someplace that has been.

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