Both holidays were established to recognize and honor the men and women who have worn the uniform of
the United States Armed Forces. Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday in May, was originally set
aside as a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country,
particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.
While those who died are also remembered on Veterans Day, which is observed on November 11, Veterans
Day is intended to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In
fact, 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.
To ensure the sacrifices of America’s fallen heroes are never forgotten, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress
passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the
White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The commission’s charter is to “encourage
the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom
and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the
National Moment of Remembrance.
The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local
time on Memorial Day for a two minute of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the
On October 7, 2016, President Obama signed the Veterans Day Moment of Silence Act. The new law
requires that the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe a two-minute
national moment of silence on Veterans Day at 3:11 p.m. Atlantic standard time, 2:11 p.m. eastern standard time,
1:11 p.m. central standard time, 12:11 p.m. mountain standard time, 11:11 a.m. Pacific standard time, 10:11 a.m.
Alaska standard time, and 9:11 a.m. Hawaii-Aleutian standard time.