The Differences Between a Memorial and a Tribute

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Veterans are celebrated on Memorial Day.

A memorial is a gathering meant to commemorate people or events. Often, a memorial will include tributes, which are ceremonies or acts of symbolism to celebrate a person or an event. Memorials and tributes are not always associated with funerals. Gatherings and ceremonies may take place well after actual events or deaths, like on Memorial Day or September 11th.



In the case of a death, a memorial is generally used to show love and support amongst friends and families. Unlike funerals, a memorial does not require dress code and can have flexible attendance. The memorial may take place at the time of death or well after, and may or may not have a formal guest list. Rules of memorials may be subjective, so it is best to confirm with the host prior to attending.


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A tribute is a ceremony or act of symbolism that can be more, or less, formal than a funeral or a memorial service. For example, a tribute could include displaying old photos of a person on a sidewalk, or it could involve a parade or a funeral march for an accomplished veteran. No matter how big or small, a tribute recognizes the merit of a person or an event.



Frequently, funerals will include a memorial and a tribute. For example, a host may display mementos such as awards, and then hold a special commemoration after a funeral. When combined with funeral proceedings, tributes and memorials become more formal. Attendees may be expected to dress appropriately and follow any planned sequence of events in a timely manner.



People do not have to be dead to have a memorial or a tribute. Also, memorials and tributes can be used to celebrate events rather than people. In these cases, the goal is the same as for the deceased, which is to commemorate, and to show love and support. Plan your memorial or tribute to include specific events to inspire attendees.



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