V is for Veterans Day

I am a bit confused (and not just about the lack of an apostrophe in my blog title!) Today in the US is Veterans Day. Some schools are closed. Some are open and holding services to honor men and women who have served in the armed forces. I hope I have that right. Because there’s also Memorial Day which happens in May. And I’m far from clear about the difference between the two.

Worse, I’m not clear on things over in the UK either! Today, Monday November the 11th, I think is Remembrance Day. I say think, because according to the BBC today, it’s Armistice Day. Which does seem plausible but has something changed? Or have I just got it wrong? Was yesterday (Sunday) Remembrance Day? I’d have said it was Remembrance Sunday and I’d have said both are about remembering those who have died in wars, although originally about remembering the signing of the Armistice that brought World War One to an end. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month and all that. Trip to the War Memorial at school and two minutes silence. Do they hold silence for things over here, I suddenly wonder?

I am not clear on a lot (clearly!) but I do know that they don’t do poppies here. I miss them. In Britain, people buy and wear poppies in the week or so leading up to yesterday and today and the money given goes to the British Legion which supports retired servicemen and women.

The poppies look like these:

Royal_British_Legion's_Paper_Poppy_-_white_backgroundAnd it is such a part of the British culture that no politician can be seen without a poppy, there are big plastic poppies that people fasten to the front of cars and buses and I even saw that football (soccer) strips are having a Remembrance Day poppy makeover:


But let’s cut to the real issue I have with today in the States. Why, oh why, is there no apostrophe in Veterans Day? Doesn’t the day belong to them? All of them. As in Veterans’ Day? The Grammar Girl discusses it here and explains that the choice depends on whether you view the word Veterans in this case as an adjective or a possessive noun. Hmm. I suspect in Britain it would have an apostrophe. But reluctantly I have come round to the fact that Veterans Day doesn’t. After all, it’s Martin Luther King Jr Day, not Martin Luther King Jr’s Day. It’s a day about a person/people, not belonging to them. That actually seems quite reasonable.

So now I am still confused, and also surprised. And I have nearly forgotten my funny Veterans Day story about Child 1. At school all the 7th grade were asked to write a card to be given to a Veteran telling them about a person in their family who had served their country. Child 1 has only one family member who meets this criteria – his great grandfather Bert, an infantryman in World War Two until he was shot (in the leg I think. Leg or arm. I should check that really). But Bert was barred. Bert was a Brit and so not allowed on a card. And so Child 1 simply looked over the shoulder of the boy sitting next to him and adopted someone else’s brave relative for his own. Is that wrong? Or is it just not quite right?

Yup. Very confused today.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. anpedant says:

    I don’t have a huge problem with the lack of an apostrophe – we don’t have one in Armistice Day or Rememberance Day – although we do have one in Saint Andrew’s Day. I’m guessing we’re just inconsistent.

    The UK used to have Veterans’ Day (note apostrophe) – from 2006 to 2008. It was replaced by Armed Forces Day (note lack of apostrophe) in 2009 – and this falls in June.

    The main difference appears to be that Armistice/Remembrance/Memorial Day specifically honours the dead, while Veterans/Veterans’/Armed Forces honours the living.

  2. anpedant says:

    In another piece of useless trivia – the photo you have used there is an English poppy. Scottish poppies have four petals.

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