Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day is celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May and Armed Forces Week begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May. It was this past weekend. I think this is another holiday that has been forgotten or misunderstood by many Americans.

I don’t think many Americans could tell you the difference between Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, and Veterans Day. They may think first of Memorial Day as the start of summer. Memorial Day honors all military dead. Veteran’s Day honors all those living who served in the military. Armed Forces Day honors all who currently serve in the military.

I was in high school and college in the days of the Vietnam War and the military draft, and the armed forces were not spoken of very highly by most young people. War was not something anyone wanted and many of us questioned why we were in Vietnam. The wars we studied in history from WWII and earlier seemed somehow more justified than Vietnam and Korea.

But Armed Forces Day is celebrated worldwide. In some countries, it is a day to show military force, almost like a threat.

In the United States, it was first observed on May 20, 1950, and had been created under President Harry S. Truman who led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank military members for their patriotic service. It celebrates the five U.S. military branches – the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Coast Guard.

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions and air shows. I saw no celebrations anywhere near me. The longest continuously running Armed Forces Day Parade in the U.S. is held in Chattanooga and this year marked its 74th parade.

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A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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