Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May which falls on the 15th this year. President Harry S. Truman established this commemorative day to pay special tribute to the men and women serving in the Armed Forces.
What does the term “Armed Forces” mean?
In the National Security Act of 1947, the Department of Defense defined “Armed Forces” as follows, “The term ‘Armed Forces’ means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.”
How is Armed Forces Day different from Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day?
While each of these holidays are designed to acknowledge and celebrate individuals who serve our nation’s military, the main difference in each of these observances is who is being honored.
Veteran’s Day takes place in November and honors all U.S. military veterans - individuals who previously served in the Armed Forces.
Memorial Day occurs in May and honors those who died during or after their service in the U.S. military.
Armed Forces Day, also in May, honors current and former members of the U.S. military, including individuals in the reserves or National Guard. It is a joint celebration of all six branches of the military:
- Air Force
- Coast Guard
- And the newly formed Space Force
including those serving in the Reserves and National Guard.
A Few Interesting Facts About Armed Forces Day
Originally, the Army, Navy and Air Force each celebrated independently. But on August 21, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day. Arising from the consolidation of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense, the annual celebration now occurs on one day.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy declared Armed Forces Day a national holiday.
And you might be surprised to learn that the United States isn’t the only country that celebrates this holiday! It is also celebrated in Armenia, Australia and New Zealand, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Burma, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba, Egypt, Finland, France, Georgia, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Lebanon, Mali, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, North Korea, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
8 Easy Ways You Can Honor and Support Our Troops As You Celebrate Armed Forces Day
There are all kinds of ways to support the men and women of the Armed Forces and show how much you care. Here are a few ideas to consider.
1. Fly the American flag or wear red, white and blue.
The American flag and our nation’s colors remain symbols of solidarity for members of our Armed Forces. And you can demonstrate your support for current and former military members simply by flying an American flag or wearing our nation’s colors.
2. Reach out to a military family in your community.
Invite them over for a meal or take them out to dinner. Simple things like running an errand or even going for a walk together can forge a friendship. If a mother or father is deployed there will be additional responsibilities for the spouse at home. Get to know them and find out how you can help.
3. Organize a potluck or picnic and invite military members and veterans in your community.
Military families are constantly being uprooted and often find themselves far from friends and family. Helping them feel welcome and at home in your community can ease their stress and sense of isolation. Contact the Community Relations Office at your local base to get more information.
4. Visit an older veteran or wounded vet.
A visit can brighten someone’s day. Contact a local nursing home or veteran’s hospital.
5. Foster a pet.
Pet care can be a big concern for someone about to be deployed. Dogs On Deployment arranges for foster care of military pets when a service member is deployed.
6. Write a thank you note to an individual in the service, a military family, or veteran.
Doesn’t it brighten your day to get an unexpected card or letter in the mail? You can do the same for a member of the military or veteran. Soldiers' Angels is a great place to start. The organization’s purpose is to provide aid, comfort, and resources to the military, veterans, and their families.
7. Bake treats.
Bring a taste of home to a service member. The Angel Bakers Team of Soldiers' Angels accepts baked goods for the deployed.
8. Get involved with a support organization.
There are lots of organizations that support our troops, military families, and veterans in a variety of meaningful ways that make it really easy for you to get involved and show your support in the way that works best for you.
The USO (United Service Organizations) provides programs, services and entertainment at more than 250 locations worldwide. Check this site to see where to volunteer.
Support Our Troops is an excellent resource, as well. Through Support Our Troops you can send cards and letters, care packages and “Troopons” (coupons for the troops).
Wounded Warrior Project is dedicated to serving veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound while serving in the military on or after September 11, 2001.
- Blue Star Families is committed to strengthening military families by connecting them with their neighbors in their communities – individuals and organizations – to empower these families to thrive and create mutual support within the communities where they live. If you’re interested in helping at special events, leading a meetup for military families, or helping these families tell their stories to support other military families Blue Star is a great place where you can make a difference.
We hope you’re inspired to join us in expressing appreciation to current and former military members this Armed Forces day!