Tag Archive | "Armed Forces Day"

The Third Saturday in May



Following a critical juncture in our nation’s history, our government designated a special day on which to commemorate the men and women who had defended our nation from enemies both abroad and within our borders.  Although each branch of the service had previously chosen a day on which to honor their own, Armed Forces Day was created to respect the military in toto.


Having triumphed over the Axis forces in 1945, the United States emerged both victorious and bloodied as a result of World War II.  Many American lives were lost or irrevocably altered in the Pacific Theatre and on the battlefields of Europe.  Long after the last soldier had been discharged honorably, the aftermath of this conflict shaped and would continue to shape the sociopolitical and economic landscapes of most of the free world. 


In 1949, with World War II still fresh in his mind and heart, then-Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson envisioned Armed Forces Day as a means of respecting every infantryman, airman, and sailor who had fought the good fight in response to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and Hitler’s reign of terror.  On February 20, 1950, President Harry S. Truman issued the following presidential proclamation: “All branches of the military will celebrate together on the third Saturday in May of every year to follow.”  May 20, 1950 marked the first celebration of Armed Forces Day.


To many Americans, this is just another Saturday.  It would pass unnoticed, but for a few enterprising or perhaps opportunistic businesses attempting to generate business through special sales on this day.  However, it is a day genuinely worthy of notice.  The men and women who rallied to our defense during, prior to, and after World War II richly deserve to be remembered and honored.


Since the birth of our nation in 1776, America has fought in many wars.  We have established ourselves as an integral part and protective force of the global community, but not without cost.  From the onset of World War l through the present day, more than 621,000 Americans have paid the highest price that a human being can pay, to ensure our freedom.  Many are buried where they fell: in the trenches, in the jungles, on the beaches, and in the deep waters of the oceans marking battle sites across the globe.


Today’s Armed Forces are comprised of men and women who have volunteered to put “country first” in their lives. In accepting this massive responsibility, they have assumed the task that heretofore was accomplished via military drafts.  Every family in this country fortunate to have children of military age, who are not being drafted into the service, should appreciate the sacrifices made by our Armed Forces as we celebrate this day.


Presently, in Iraq, America battles the rebel militia; in Afghanistan, we fight forces powered by the Taliban.  Manning less visible but no less critical outposts around the world, our Armed Forces protect our freedom every day.  Let us keep them in our thoughts and prayers as we remember them today.

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