Understanding Memorial Day

By Judge Audrey Headrick, Chattanooga

As a military wife, I have often thought about the misunderstandings that many people have regarding Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Memorial Day, previously known as Decoration Day, occurs on the last Monday of May, and Veterans Day is on November 11. Surprisingly, many people don’t understand the significant difference between the two holidays. Simply put, Memorial Day is more than having cookouts to celebrate the start of summer.

One tip I will share is that folks in the military prefer not to be thanked for their service on Memorial Day. I have a law school friend who is a veteran, and every year he shares a post on Facebook that explains the difference between the two holidays. Memorial Day is to honor and pay respects to those military personnel who have died serving our country, died due to military service, or died after retiring or discharged from service. Veterans Day is to honor, recognize, and thank veterans.

When my son was in the Boy Scouts, his troop always went to the national cemetery each Memorial Day weekend to place a small flag on each grave. That tradition continues yearly in our country and is observed not only by the Boy Scouts but also by other organizations and individuals. Along with community memorial services, there is also a minute of silence observed at 3:00 p.m. on Memorial Day as the National Moment of Remembrance.

I encourage you to take a moment on Memorial Day to remember those in the past who lost their lives serving our country, which allows us today to enjoy our many freedoms. Likewise, consider sharing with your children the significant difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Judge Headrick’s grandfather, Kenneth Duncan May, served in World War II in the Army Air Corps, which became the Air Force in 1947.

3 thoughts on “Understanding Memorial Day

  1. Del Grissom says:

    Thanks, Judge Headrick!

    Well said….freedom isn’t free–a great price has been paid by our fallen service members, their families, friends, and our nation over the years through their love, service, loss, and sacrifices. I hope everyone takes some time each Memorial Day to remember in their own way, with family or friends, what Memorial Day is really about.

    “Greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends.”


  2. Brian Addington says:

    My great uncle was killed in military plane crash during WW2. It is a somber day, but I am proud of the sacrifices of military heroes and their families.


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