American flags are placed near gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia
Photo: Dan Thornberg / EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm
Photo: Dan Thornberg / EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm

Memorial Day not about thanks, but remembrance

Memorial Day is a solemn holiday, intended to honor those veterans who died while serving. It’s not the same as Veterans Day, which honors the service of people who have worn the uniform.

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It may seem like hair-splitting, but Navy veteran Like Visconti insists there is a difference between honoring a fallen veteran and saying “Thank you for your service.”

"On Memorial Day, the veteran you're talking to may be going through a bit of melancholy remembering people who died over the years," Visconti told NPR

"I don't need to be thanked for my service," he said. "I think it's become kind of a platitude, toss-away thing to say."

Visconti co-founded the website DiversityInc, which addressed the topic of remembrance on May 22. He said he encourages those who want to say supportive words to a veteran to recognize "that the person may have friends who died in combat."

Chris Wilson, vice president of major accounts at DiversityInc., said that Memorial Day is a holiday where people should “memorialize those that decided to sign a contract” to join the U.S. military.

“Memorial Day is essentially the one day that we should remember all veterans that are no longer with us, whether that is from combat, everyday accidents or just the natural course of life with people dying of old age,” Wilson told DiversityInc.

And while people mean well when they thank a veteran for their service, Visconti said there are other ways to show appreciation.

"I think sometimes maybe just a pat on the back or an arm around the shoulder is really better than words," Visconti told NPR. "So just be a friend."

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