The UK, USA and Canada don’t have much in common these days, but we do share a holiday! All three countries choose to honor the citizens who served in the military on the same day. Now, the day’s have slightly different meanings, but the overall sentiment is the same.
Veterans Day in America is meant to celebrate anyone who has served in the military, alive or dead from any war or battle. However, the day focuses more on the living veterans. Memorial Day in the summer focuses more on honoring the lost members of the military. Most towns will host meals for vets to show their appreciation, and stores/restaurants will give extra discounts on November 11. A lot of schools will do special performances for their town veterans on the Friday before.
Armistice Day in Canada is celebrated on November 11th, no matter what day of the week the 11th falls on. In the UK Remembrance Day is technically November 11, however it is most often celebrated on the Sunday closest to November 11. This year, Remembrance Day in the UK was actually celebrated on November 12. Armistice/Remembrance Day is celebrated on Nov 11th because that is the day a cease fire was called in WWI.
I’ve heard a lot of conflicting things about Remembrance Day in the UK. Initially, I was told it was only to celebrate those lost in WWI. So, when it rolled around, I didn’t observe it the first two years because my country (USA) didn’t take part in WWI. Then I was told Remembrance Day is meant as a reminder for the UK not to enter into any “pointless” wars like WWI. Then, I was told that it honors all lost those lost in any war or battle the UK was involved in since WWI. The primary difference between Remembrance Day and Veterans Day is the US is celebrating living veterans for their service while the UK/Canada celebrates the dead who have served.
There is another very notable difference. In the beginning of November, the UK is suddenly overtaken by poppies. By poppies I mean the red flower. You will see poppies on peoples cars, in window shops, pinned to coat jackets, worn as jewellery and basically everywhere. And on actual Remembrance Day many churches, shops and places will drop bunches of poppies. I didn’t know why the UK chose poppies until this year. It is because during WWI soldiers had to fight on fields of poppies.
I think that it is interesting and cool that all the commonwealth countries like the UK and Canada as well as America all honor their military on the same day. Especially because the original reason for the holiday was marking the end of WWI, a war the USA had a small part in.