About National Armed Forces Day
Armed Forces Day is a day of paying tribute to and honoring members of the military. In the United States it is celebrated annually on the third Saturday in May.
The day was created in 1949 to replace and unify formerly separate celebration days for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. However, within the respective services the separate days are still observed. Armed Forces Day is not a public holiday in the United States.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson hoped to bring a sense of unity to the branches.
Each year there is a theme. The theme of the first Armed Services Day was “Teamed for Defense.”
Early celebrations were marked with parades and air shows around the country. President Truman said in the first Armed Forces Day address, “it is the first parade of preparedness by the united forces of our land, sea and air defense.”
One of the largest celebrations was in Washington, D.C., which had more than 10,000 troops and cadets from every branch.
Today, it is celebrated with military exercises on land, sea and in the air to honor members of the US military and to show off their state-of-the-art equipment to the civilian population it protects. Many people will display flags on their homes or donate to the USO who serves active-duty military and their families.
In 1961 President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation officially declaring Armed Forces Day a national holiday every third Saturday in May.