“ARMED FORCES DAY” is our annual day of national recognition for the men and women currently serving in the active, reserve and national guard components of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Space Force.
Armed Forces Day is the 3rd Saturday in May (May 20th this year) and traditionally concludes Armed Forces week. May is also designated as Military Appreciation Month by the United States Congress.
There were separate observances for each of the military branches originally. 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 significance and the critical role it plays in our nation’s independence, freedom, democracy, security and survival.
Today, there are 1,335,548 million active duty military members and 793,808 military reserve and guard members. Approximately 167,206 are deployed worldwide in foreign countries.
Every US Armed Forces member, upon entering the military service, takes the sworn loyalty oath to support, defend and bear true faith and allegiance to our secular United States Constitution. It is the affirmation we are one nation under our Constitution and it is the Constitution in which we trust. We were the first nation to be independently established by and for “We the People” (Constitution Preamble) with no acknowledgment of any other authority (emperor, monarch, dictator, deity, religion, scripture, etc).
“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 Milley (public speech, November 11, 2020).
Armed Forces Day for recognizing those serving should not be confused with Memorial Day (the last Monday in May) for remembering those 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 commemorate three distinct categories of military service with three different national observances. Armed Forces Day is for those still serving in their uniform whereas Memorial Day is for those who did not make it out of their uniform and Veterans Day is for those who have hung up their uniform.
Our military services also have their own origination dates or birthdays (Army – June 14, Navy – October 13, Marine Corps – November 10, Air Force – September 18, Coast Guard – August 4, Space Force – December 20 and National Guard – December 13).
As patriotic Americans, we extend genuine gratitude to all of our military members currently serving this country in these troubled times of international conflict and domestic insurrection.
Brigadier General, US Army (Retired)
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)
Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation