“ARMED FORCES DAY” is our annual day of national recognition for the men and women serving in the active, reserve and national guard components of the six military branches – Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Space Force. It is always the 3rd Saturday in May (May 15th this year) and concludes Armed Forces week (from the 2nd Saturday in May until the 3rd Sunday). May was also designated as Military Appreciation Month by the United States Congress in 1999.
Originally, there were separate observances for each of the military branches. The unification of our Armed Forces under the Department of Defense occurred in 1949. 33rd President Harry S. Truman, a decorated World War I veteran, led the effort establishing a special day of appreciation for all military men and women currently serving, their families and the communities supporting them. The first official Armed Forces Day was held on May 20, 1950.
The importance of Armed Forces Day should be evident to all patriotic Americans because our military members deserve to be recognized and respected for their loyal service to this country. It is always important that we acknowledge, appreciate and applaud them. It is also a reminder of our military’s importance and the critical role it plays in our nation’s independence, freedom, democracy, security and survival.
Today, there are 1,300,000 active duty military members and 800,000 military reserve and guard members. Approximately 160,000 are deployed worldwide in 150 foreign countries.
Every armed forces member, upon entering our military service, takes a sworn oath to bear true faith and allegiance to the United States Constitution. It is the affirmation that we are one nation under our Constitution and it is the Constitution in which we must trust. We were the first nation in history to be established by and for “We the People” (Constitution Preamble) with no acknowledgment of higher authority (emperor, monarch, dictator, deity, religion, scripture, etc).
“The Constitution is the guide which I will never abandon.” – American Founder, 1st President and Commander-in-Chief George Washington (public letter, July 28, 1795). “We do not take an oath to a king or queen, a tyrant or dictator. We do not take an oath to an individual. We take an oath to the Constitution…and will protect and defend that document regardless of personal price.” – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and America’s top military officer General Mark Miller (public speech, November 11, 2020).
Armed Forces Day for recognizing those currently serving should not be confused with Memorial Day (the last Monday each May) for remembering those deceased who sacrificed their lives in the military service of this country or Veterans Day (every November 11th ) for respecting those men and women living or dead who honorably served this nation in the military for any length of time and are no longer serving. We celebrate these three distinct national observances for our military to commemorate three different categories of military service.
Our military services also have their own origination or birthday observance dates (Army – June 14, Navy – October 13, Marine Corps – November 10, Air Force – September 18, Coast Guard – August 4 and Space Force – December 20).
As patriotic Americans, we extend genuine gratitude to all of our military members currently serving this country in these troubled times of international and domestic terrorism.
Brigadier General, US Army (Retired)
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)
Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation