The Apostrophe Question

The Distinction Between Honor and Belonging


English teachers, grammarians, and others call the DRBA from time to time to complain that we have no apostrophe on signs, the web site, or in articles about Veterans Memorial Park.  Are we wrong, or just bad at grammar?  Neither.  For those who care about these types of details, here’s the explanation about why there’s no apostrophe in Veterans Memorial Park. It’s the same reason there’s no apostrophe in Veterans Day.

Although other annual celebrations such as “Mother’s Day” and “Father’s Day” have apostrophes, Veterans Day is different. Unlike so-called "Hallmark" holidays designed for celebrations, Veterans Day was declared a national holiday by the U.S. Congress in 1938 and is considered a solemn day of remembrance. According to the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs, apostrophes are left off because they imply a sense of belonging. Veterans believe that Veterans Day, recognized parks, and other special events exist to honor veterans and don’t belong to anyone. Instead, they honor those who have made sacrifices on behalf of us all.Therefore, apostrophes that imply a sense of belonging are left off.

The day honoring veterans had first been set aside on November 11, 1927 as Armistice Day to denote the day that fighting for World War I officially ceased. Just as Armistice Day became Veterans Day, the Park was renamed Veterans Memorial Park from its original name of War Memorial Park around the time the main memorial was restored.

A flag ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park honoring veterans during Veterans Day

Grammar is often thought of as a technical matter, but in cases like this, it's worth noting that the lack of apostrophes is intentional in line with what the Park and the annual memorial services are meant to recognize and convey. It is the mission of Veterans Memorial Park to serve as a place of reflection, remembrance, and honor to the nation’s veterans. Hence, no apostrophe.

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