ARMED FORCES DAY
Saturday May 18th, 2024
ARMED FORCES WEEK
Starts on the second Saturday in May and ends on the Sunday after Armed Forces Day
What makes Armed Forces Day different from Veterans Day and Memorial Day?
Unlike Veterans Day, which honors those who served, and unlike Memorial Day, which honors those who died serving, Armed Forces Day is a day to honor all of the men and women currently serving as well as those who have served, both active and former military.
Armed Forces Day History
On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under one department -- the Department of Defense. Each of the military leagues and orders was asked to drop sponsorship of its specific service day in order to celebrate the newly announced Armed Forces Day. The Army, Navy and Air Force leagues adopted the newly formed day. The Marine Corps League declined to drop support for Marine Corps Day but supports Armed Forces Day, too.
In a speech announcing the formation of the day, President Truman "praised the work of the military services at home and across the seas" and said, "it is vital to the security of the nation and to the establishment of a desirable peace." In an excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation of Feb. 27, 1950, Mr. Truman stated:
"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".
The theme of the first Armed Forces Day was "Teamed for Defense." It was chosen as a means of expressing the unification of all the military forces under a single department of the government. Although this was the theme for the day, there were several other purposes for holding Armed Forces Day. It was a type of "educational program for civilians," one in which there would be an increased awareness of the Armed Forces. It was designed to expand public understanding of what type of job is performed and the role of the military in civilian life. It was a day for the military to show "state-of- the-art" equipment to the civilian population they were protecting. And it was a day to honor and acknowledge the people of the Armed Forces of the United States.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953: "Today let us, as Americans, honor the American fighting man. For it is he--the soldier, the sailor, the Airman, the Marine-- who has fought to preserve freedom. It is his valor that has given renewed hope to the free world that by working together in discipline and faith our ideals of freedom will always prevail."
Armed Forces Day is celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May. Armed Forces Week begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May. Because of their unique training schedules, National Guard and Reserve units may celebrate Armed Forces Day/Week over any period in May.
Aside from the Armed Forces Day the Armed Forces and the National Guard Bureau are honored on the following days:
29 March: Vietnam Veterans Day (All US Military Branches)
Last Monday of May: Memorial Day
14 June: Flag Day and Army Day (United States Army)
4 August: Coast Guard Day (United States Coast Guard)
17 September: Air Force Day (United States Air Force)
13 October: US Navy Birthday (United States Navy)
27 October: Navy Day (United States Navy)
10 November: Marine Corps Birthday (United States Marine Corps)
11 November: Veterans Day
13 December: National Guard Day (National Guard of the United States)
National POW/MIA Recognition Day is observed on the third Friday in September. It honors those who were prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action. It is most associated with those who were POWs during the Vietnam War.
Date: Friday, September 18, 2020