Fun Facts about Armed Forces Day
May 19, 2016
Happy Armed Forces Day! Or, is it “Merry Armed Forces Day”? While you may be familiar with the holiday itself, there is a slew of history that has slipped through the cracks of time. Each military force: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard has their own celebratory day in the calendar year. These days are greeted by special celebrations for that branch of the service and were established during the terms of several presidents. The time frame ranges from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. It wasn’t until August 31, 1949—four years after the conclusion of World War Two—that a single day was denoted for all five of the United States of America’s armed forces.
President Harry S. Truman declared that thereafter “Armed Forces Day” would be celebrated on the third Saturday of every May. In addition to its origins, there are several interesting facts associated with Armed Forces Day!
Every year, Armed Forces Day celebrations are focused around a central theme. This year, the theme is “Guardians of Freedom”. Some past themes include its debut theme in 1950, which was “Teamed for Defense”, “Appreciation of a Nation”, “Prepared to Meet the Challenge”, “Freedom Through Unity”, and “Power for Peace”.
Even though Armed Forces Day is not a federal holiday, it is widely celebrated. On the first Armed Forces Day, over 10,000 veterans and soldiers marched in Washington. One might even call it an international holiday, as several other countries including Australia, Bulgaria, Spain, South Korea, and Thailand also celebrate an Armed Forces Day that is similar to the holiday in the United States.
The United States Department of Defense is not only the largest federal department in the country, it is the largest employer in the world. All combined, the various branches of the Department of Defense include 742,000 civilian personnel, over 1.3 million troops on active duty, over 2 million retired service members, and 826,000 Reserves and National Guard members.
National Armed Forces Day is actually the fifth in a series of holidays celebrating our armed forces during National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM). The first holiday is Loyalty Day, then Public Service Recognition Week and Military Spouse Appreciation Day followed by Victory in Europe Day. Then comes Armed Forces Day and the month culminates in the federally celebrated holiday, Memorial Day.
One purpose of the original Armed Forces Day was to demonstrate the best and brightest of new technology and methodology. The goal was, and is, to be prepared for “any eventuality by land, sea, or air.”
Take a moment this Saturday to remember and celebrate our Armed Forces. The supporters of Soldiers’ Angels know better than many the grave cost that can mean serving in the military, but there is also hope and solidarity. We are a grateful nation, and we want to let our troops know that we support them and their incredible efforts.