Armed Forces Day pays tribute to all the men and women in uniform in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps. It gives our citizens and prior service a chance to show their appreciation for the efforts and sacrifice of our nation’s service members.
On the third Saturday of May we celebrate Armed Forces Day, which receives its origins shortly after WWII. President Harry S. Truman led an effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together to recognize our nation’s military members. On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day. The first Armed Forces Day was held on May 20th, 1950.
Armed Forces Day was initially created to show the assimilation of all service branches into the Department of Defense. Before that, every service branch celebrated their own separate day. The Marine Corps declined and recognized both the Marine Corps Birthday and Armed Forces Day.
During the very first Armed Forces Day the United States was taking a very firm stance against Communism. The Korean War began only a few months after the first celebration. As the Cold War raged, it was very necessary to flex our military muscle to the Soviets.
Armed Forces Week, originally designed to coincide with Armed Forces Day on May 20th, is a chance for our nation’s citizens and veterans to show their appreciation to those that currently serve. Now Armed Forces Week is held on the second Saturday of May, to culminate with Armed Forces Day held on the third Saturday of May.
During this time, Fleet Week is also held in New York on 25 May. The final event for Fleet Week in New York is Memorial Day, 30 May. Fleet week however, is scheduled on different dates elsewhere in the United States.
For any person to enlist in the military, regardless of the service branch, requires commitment. A normal service contract is four years active, with four years of Inactive Ready Reserve. That is a total of eight years of commitment! Many service members were called back into service from their IRR status. This was is known as stop loss. The point of this, is that men and women are asked to give almost a decade of commitment to the military. This is something over 95% of American population is not willing to do.
Today more than ever, it is important to honor our nation’s veterans. Ten years of war in two countries has taken its toll on a generation. It is important to give respect to our veterans. Our nation has learned a dark lesson after the Vietnam War, hen our veterans were kicked and spat upon after returning.
Today marks a new day, in a new America. With a generation of our nation’s veterans already at the helm.