Memorial Day occurs on the last Monday in May and marks the solemn time when Americans honor the soldiers that died in military service. When the observance was first declared in 1868 by General John Logan, it was called Decoration Day in reference to a tradition of decorating the graves of those whose lives were lost in the Civil War and its set date was May 30. In the years following World War I, the day picked up the more inclusive name Memorial Day as people began to use it as time to honor all who died in all US wars. For many, the holiday signifies the unofficial beginning of the summer season.
There is frequent confusion between Memorial Day and its companion holiday, Veterans Day. The purpose of Memorial Day is to honor those who have died in American military service, while November 11, Veterans Day, is for those who have served the US in war and survived. Veteran derives from the Latin veteranus meaning “mature, experienced” and has been used to refer to experienced soldiers for centuries.
Veterans Day was originally called Armistice Day, marking the agreement that brought an end to World War I on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 (November 11th, 1918). In 1954, the name of the holiday was changed to Veterans Day in the United States. However, in some parts of the world, November 11 is known as Remembrance Day.