Memorial Day honors those who lost their lives while defending their country. In 1971, Congress established Memorial Day as a federal holiday and fixed its observance on the last Monday in May.
The U.S. president or vice president presides at a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington and places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, also known as Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.
Although Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial beginning of summer, many Americans visit cemeteries, where volunteers often place American flags on graves.
Veterans Day, in contrast, honors everyone who serves or has served in defense of the country and is observed with celebrations on November 11.