The third Saturday of May is nationally recognized as Armed Forces Day, a day on which we celebrate the service of the men and women in our military in protecting our country at home and abroad.
On August 31, 1949, President Harry S. Truman created the proclamation to establish a day to honor all those who served in the military. Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days.
In President Truman’s proclamation given May 20, 1950 he said:
“Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America’s defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.”
Since 1950 Armed Forces Day has been a yearly event, celebrated throughout the Nation with parades, programs, speeches, military air shows and other means to celebrate and honor retired and active military men and women. Many cemeteries hold memorials to honor those who gave their lives for their country.
This year as we honor our Nation’s military it is not only a grateful tribute, but a reminder of who is fighting to keep our homeland safe. A visit to a VA Hospital brought the reality of the sacrifice given by our young men and women serving. Sitting in a waiting room with several retired Vietnam War era veterans, I noticed that their banter about their war experience stopped abruptly as a young 22-year-old soldier was wheeled in by his wife. A car bomb in Afghanistan left him a paraplegic. These men, who had also witnessed the horrors of war and survived, were overcome to tears by this young man’s sacrifice.
Americans everywhere want to help those who fight to keep us safe to live a life of peace and freedom. Hundreds of organizations, companies, schools and individuals do service to recognize our troops throughout the year. Everywhere you go you can see or read about events raising funds for military families.
So, wherever you are on May 19 take a moment and reflect on the freedoms you enjoy and who is fighting to protect them. We are ever grateful for our military men and women.