Armed Forces Day is an annual observance dedicated to the brave individuals currently serving in the United States Armed Forces.
It is celebrated on the third Saturday in May and is one of the several holidays that are part of National Military Appreciation Month. Each year, Armed Forces Day centers on a unique theme designed to highlight the hard work and dedication of our servicemembers.
Armed Forces Day Themes
The first Armed Forces Day was held on May 20, 1950, and given the “Teamed for Defense” theme. It was selected as a way to show that all branches of the military had been united under one department of the government.
This inaugural observance was celebrated with parades, receptions, open houses and air shows. Approximately 10,000 American troops marched past the President in Washington D.C., while 33,000 people in New York City commemorated the occasion “under an air cover of 250 military planes of all types.”
Famous World War II warships were in harbors across the country for the public to see, and precision flying teams filled the skies. The American people came together across the country to honor members of the Armed Forces.
Since then, some of the other themes of Armed Forces Day have included:
• Appreciation of a Nation
• Freedom Through Unity
• Dedication and Devotion
• Power for Peace
Celebrating Armed Forces Day
Each year, Americans come out to celebrate Armed Forces Day by the thousands. Many events take place in cities across the country to honor those who serve; activities often include parades, military service displays open to the public, educational exhibits to teach children about the armed forces, “Support the Troops” motorcycle rides and more. The bugle call “Taps” is often played at these events as a way to show respect for those who died for their country.
10 Armed Forces Day Facts
Want to learn more about Armed Forces Day? The following 10 facts offer insights on this annual celebration:
1. On July 26, 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act, which united all four branches of the military under one department of the government.
2. In 1947, the National Military Establishment was created as a result of the National Security Act.
3. The Department of Defense replaced the National Military Establishment in 1949.
4. Armed Forces Day is not a federal holiday.
5. On the inaugural Armed Forces Day, B-36 bombers flew over every U.S. state capital.
6. This year marks the 67th anniversary of the Armed Forces Day Parade in Bremerton, Washington—the longest-running Armed Forces Day parade sponsored by a city.
7. On March 18, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued Proclamation 3399, making Armed Forces Day an official national holiday.
8. The American flag is traditionally flown on Armed Forces Day. People also frequently wear patriotic colored clothing to commemorate the occasion.
9. Sea, air, and land military exercises are held on Armed Forces Day to recognize servicemembers and display their state-of-the-art equipment.
10. An all-in-one Armed Forces Day is celebrated by nearly 40 other countries, including Armenia, Canada, Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, South Korea, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Source: By Bisk on behalf of Villanova University