Veterans Day 2018: Facts, Why We Observe It, How It's Different From Memorial Day

veterans day how is it different from memorial day
People show their support to veterans during the Veterans Day Parade in New York City on November 11, 2016. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Each year, on November 11, America honors its veterans, but the meaning of the holiday often gets confused with another day to honor those who served, Memorial Day.

Veterans Day became an official public holiday in the United States in 1938, although if you asked people what they were doing for Veterans Day back then, they wouldn't know what you were referencing. November 11, 1918, was considered the end of World War I and dubbed Armistice Day, according to the Department of Defense.

In 1938, Armistice Day became an official holiday set aside to honor World War I veterans. However, after World War II and the Korean War, veterans service organizations urged the holiday to be amended. On June 1, 1954, Congress changed the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day so all American veterans would be honored.

In an effort to boost economic stimulation with a long weekend, in 1968 Congress made certain federal holidays, including Veterans Day, fall on a Monday. From 1971 until 1977, Veterans Day was officially celebrated on the fourth Monday of October. However, in 1975, then-President Gerald Ford signed a law that returned Veterans Day to November 11.

The meaning behind Veterans Day is often used interchangeably with the significance of Memorial Day, which is celebrated in May. While both holidays honor those who have served their country, they have different meanings.

Veterans Day is a time to remember those who served their county honorably, both living and dead, although it's focused more on the living.

"Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served - not only those who died - have sacrificed and done their duty," the Department of Veterans Affairs explained.

However, Memorial Day is meant to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Specifically, it's a day to remember military personnel who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.

As of September 12, there were 16.1 million veterans living in the United States who served during at least one war, according to Seven million veterans served during the Vietnam War, 5.5 million veterans served during the Persian Gulf War and two million veterans served during the Korean War.

During World War II, 16 million Americans served their country and reported about 558,000 of World War II veterans were still alive as of September. While veterans live all over the country, noted that three of the 50 states in America have over one million veterans among their residents. California has 1.8 million veterans, Texas has 1,7 million and Florida has 1.6 million.

Every year on Veterans Day, Arlington National Cemetery hosts the Veterans Day National Ceremony. The ceremony begins promptly at 11:00 a.m. EST with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns. It then continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by various veterans' organizations and remarks from various dignitaries.