In the United States, Armed Forces Day is observed annually on the third Saturday in May. The holiday involves all branches of the U.S. military – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard, and was established as a day for citizens to honor the men and women who give their all in support of their country.
“It is fitting and proper that we devote one day each year
to paying special tribute to those whose constancy and courage
constitute one of the bulwarks guarding the freedom of this nation
and the peace of the free world.”
—–U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower
Want to learn more about Armed Forces Day? Here are some Historic Facts that will put you in the know!
When Was Armed Forces Day Created? On August 31, 1949, Louis Johnson – then Secretary of Defense – announced Armed Forces Day. The holiday was intended to replace the separate holidays honoring the five branches of U.S. armed forces (though the individual days are still celebrated within each service), and also marked the unification of the military branches under the Department of Defense.
Who’s Idea Was Armed Forces Day? President Harry S. Truman first proposed a single Armed Forces Day, and led the effort to adopt it. Later, he said, “Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America’s defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.”
When Did Armed Forces Day Become an Official National Holiday? Under President John F. Kennedy, who on March 18, 1961, issued Proclamation 3399.
What Do People Do on Armed Forces Day? Celebrations often include parades – in fact, Bremerton, Washington, holds the record for the longest running city-sponsored Armed Forces Day Parade, now entering its 64th year in 2012- air shows, receptions, exhibits and exhibitions, flying the American flag, and lots more.
“This is the day on which we have the welcome opportunity to pay special tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces … to all the individuals who are in the service of their country all over the world. Armed Forces Day won’t be a matter of parades and receptions for a good many of them. They will all be in line of duty and some of them may give their lives in that duty.” —–New York Times, May 17, 1952
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