Armed Forces Day, which is celebrated on the third Saturday in May (May 19 this year) is actually a combination of five major observances. In 1947, President Harry S. Truman proclaimed that Army Day, April 6; Navy Day, October 27 (also the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt); Air Force Day, the second Saturday in September; founding of the Marine Corps, November 10; and Coast Guard Day, August 4, would all be marked on the same day and hence forth be known as Armed Forces Day.
In addition to honoring the various branches of service, this special day marks the establishment of our Department of Defense in 1947. It is, however, neither a legal nor a public holiday.It seems prophetic in light of the events in which our armed forces are presently engaged in that back in May of 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower would say these words: “It is America’s hope and purpose to work continually toward the peaceful adjustment of international differences, and it is fitting that Armed Forces Day again emphasize the fact that our strength is dedicated to keeping the peace.”
President Eisenhower also said on the occasion that “this is the time to be devoted to paying special tribute to those whose constancy and courage constitute one of the bulwarks guarding the freedom of the nation and the peace of the free world.” In 1953 the slogan “Power for Peace” became the Armed Forces Day byword.
In many locations where there are military installations, the entire week preceding the third Saturday in May is known as Armed Forces Week, with the observance usually culminating in a big parade. At various bases and on ships there are open houses, demonstrations of weaponry and equipment and an opportunity for local citizens to see up close the readiness of our country’s national defense forces.
Army Day, was the first of the national observances, dating back to April 6, 1928 when it was started by the Military Order of the World Wars to show respect to the Army of the United States and its component parts including the Reserve, the National Guard, and its veterans. It was recognized by Congress in 1937 and marked yearly until being merged into Armed Forces Day.
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