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Memorial Day vs. Veterans Day, and why saying “Happy Memorial Day” can be hurtful

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"Happy Memorial Day!" Over the decades, Memorial Day has turned into a three-day weekend marked by celebrations including barbecues, lake trips, and overindulgence.

Many have forgotten the true meaning of the holiday, which is honoring our military members who lost their lives during in service.

For their families and comrades-in-arms who served alongside them, there is certainly nothing "happy" about it.

Memorial Day started after the Civil War in 1868 and was originally named Decoration Day - a day set aside to decorate the graves of fallen military members after the war.

It is believed the holiday was assigned to the last Monday in May each year because flowers across the nation would be in bloom.

More than 100 years later, the federal holiday became nationally-recognized as Memorial Day in 1971, to pay tribute to fallen veterans of all wars and service rather than the Civil War alone.

The intent of the holiday is to decorate grave sites of those who died while serving our country, or to attend parades and other ceremonies honoring our deceased servicemen and women.

Is it okay to celebrate in other ways with friends and family on Memorial Day? Absolutely! But please be mindful that saying "Happy Memorial Day" can be hurtful to the loved ones of our fallen heroes, from whom we gained our freedom to celebrate in the first place.

It should also be noted that Memorial Day is different from Veterans Day, which is celebrated each November 11th, and honors all who have served or are currently serving in our military.

A common mistake is spelling Veterans Day as "Veteran's" Day - there is no apostrophe after the n.

To all of our military members, past and present, no matter the day of the year - THANK YOU!