Armed Forces Day
Armed Forces Day is a holiday that highlights the services of men and women in the armed forces of the United States. This includes the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy. Armed Forces Day is celebrated on every third Saturday of May as a part of Armed Forces Week that takes place the week prior. This special day is designed as an opportunity for U.S. citizens to pay tribute to the dedicated members of the military.
Before 1949, there were separate holidays in the United States that celebrated the services of those in the Army, Air Force and Navy. This is partly due to the fact that each of these branches of the armed forces were represented under different entities. After World War II, the armed forces regrouped and the Department of Defense was created to unify all branches of the military.
To help commemorate the new department, President Truman’s new Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced a holiday dedicated to the unification. Secretary Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day in 1949. The first holiday was observed on May 20, 1950. It was declared thereafter to fall on every third Saturday in May. In 1950, the theme for the very first Armed Forces Day was “Teamed for Defense.”
Armed Forces Day was not only created as an event to bring together all branches of the military, but it was also utilized as an opportunity for American citizens to get to know their armed forces better. While some citizens know all the branches of military, many do not know all the ins and outs of what it is like to serve. Armed Forces Day aims to increase awareness of these roles through public education, much of which extends through Armed Forces Week.
The public is educated about the armed forces through many ways. Children may learn about the military at school leading up to Armed Forces Day, while the military often holds educational events that are free to the public. Some communities hold parades and other light-hearted events that showcase the essence of the military while getting citizens involved. In addition, many citizens take this opportunity to sign up with one of the branches of the military during this special time.
Symbols for Armed Forces Day include the American flag, as well as the seals of the branches of military. There is a theme for each year. In 2013, the theme is slated is “Strong and Resilient: Prepared to Meet Any Challenge.”
Armed Forces Day is a very important holiday in the U.S. While it is a national holiday, there are no special days off of school or work to commemorate the day. This is partly due to the fact that the holiday always falls on a Saturday when government institutions are closed anyway.
Other nations have their own holidays to celebrate their armed forces. However, the dates are not the same as the holiday in the U.S. Some countries choose to celebrate their armed forces around significant dates in their own history. For example, the United Kingdom celebrates its Armed Forces Day every June. In some nations, armed forces holidays coincide with dates to commemorate veterans as well as soldiers killed in combat; this is different from the United States, which has three separate holidays for all each.