Uniting the Forces
Armed Forces Day was created on August 31, 1949. The holiday was supported and approved
by President Harry S. Truman who wanted to show that America’s military was ready
for any threat or challenge. One of the purposes of the holiday was to combine the
separate holidays celebrated by the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. It
was requested that each of these organizations should drop the dates of their individual
celebrations to accept the date of Armed Forces Day observance on the third Saturday of
The Army, Navy, and Air Force complied with the Armed Forces Day change, and are
recognized together on Armed Forces Day. The Marines and the Coast Guard, however,
retained their individual dates of establishment, but also agreed to observe Armed Forces
Day as an additional celebration. The end result was that each segment of the military
did join Armed Forces Day for observance, but the Marines and Coast Guard also retained
their original celebrations.
Objectives of Armed Forces Day
Armed Forces Day was implemented to achieve several objectives: to unite all segments of
the military under the Department of Defense, to expand public understanding of the
military and its purpose in war and peace, to present a showing of the latest equipment
and technologies that protect the public, to demonstrate that the military is ready for
any threat or challenge, and finally to honor all of the people who serve in each segment
of the military. The intentions and goals of the holiday have been honorable from its
inception, but Armed Forces Day has missed some public acclaim because its purpose has
been poorly understood.
Confusion in the Mix
The novelty of the first Armed Forces Day brought it much attention and grandeur. It was
celebrated with parades, air shows, and military interaction. It appeared that the intent
of the holiday was being fulfilled. In time, however, the holiday drifted somewhat into
obscurity in many parts of the nation. Some of the public became confused about the
purpose of Armed Forces Day.
Combining the celebrations of each segment of the military into one
holiday, effectively camouflaged the reason to celebrate the day. It was almost like
combining Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. The
celebrations all have something in common, but when you put them together, they lose
something in the translation. It is easy to understand that “Army Day”
celebrates the Army and so forth, but the creation of Armed Forces Day made the reason
for the celebration more obscure. With Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day added to the
equation, many find it difficult to understand the reason that each military holiday is
Publicity and Purpose
In fairness, there may still be hope for Armed Forces Day to achieve the greatness it was
created to achieve. It appears that much of the confusion about the holiday stems from a
lack of promotional instruction and publicity about the holiday. Perhaps a little
clarification of the purpose of each military holiday may help to increase the level of
public appreciation for Armed Forces Day.
Here are the three significant military holidays and a short
description of their purposes and importance:
Purpose and Importance
||To honor all who have
died in wars and actions taken to defend and protect the United States of
Distinguishing feature of Memorial Day: Honor those
who died in war and
||To honor all who have
served in the military—especially to recognize those who have fought in
wars or actions taken to protect the United States of America.
Distinguishing feature of
Veteran’s Day: Honor all soldiers who have put their lives in danger to
protect the United States.
|Armed Forces Day
To honor all United States military forces and the
work they do to protect the country.
To increase understanding, and respect for all segments of the military (Army, Navy, Air
Force, Marines, and Coast Guard)
To learn more about what the military is and what it does in war and peace.
To demonstrate that the United States military is ready for any challenge or threat that
it may face.
To honor all people who serve in the Armed Forces.
Distinguishing feature of Armed
Forces Day: To honor all who serve in the military today and to demonstrate the
military’s preparedness to face any threat or challenge.
Understanding the Military Holidays
Each of the military holidays has a specific meaning and purpose. The purpose of Memorial
Day is to remember all who have died to protect the United States of America. The purpose
of Veterans Day is to honor those who have put their lives in danger for the country. The
purpose of Armed Forces Day is to honor all that the military is and what it does
everyday to protect the United States of America. All of these holidays are important.
They help us to honor everything the military does to protect the United States of
Observing Armed Forces Day
Although there are not parades and air shows to enjoy in every part of the nation on
Armed Forces Day, every American can celebrate the holiday with the patriotism and
respect it deserves. Here are a few traditions and ideas to try on Armed Forces Day:
Fly the American flag
Talk or write a letter to a soldier
Read an article online about any segment of the military
Watch a patriotic movie
Discuss the importance of the military as a family
Wear red, white, and blue clothing or decorative jewelry
Armed Forces Day is a day to honor every segment of the United States
Military. It is a day to be distinguished from all other holidays as a celebration of the
power that protects us everyday. Armed Forces Day is a day to fly a flag and to share as
a family fond feelings for the powerful force that seeks to preserve peace in the world.
Let us all remember the third Saturday of May with greater conviction and patriotism than
ever before. It is up to us—America’s citizens—to honor our military
with the respect it deserves on Armed Forces Day.
Try Our Armed Forces Day Word Puzzles
Armed Forces Day Crossword"
Day Word Search"
- Article by Wes Fessler
1. United States Department of Defense, “A Tradition of
http://www.defenselink.mil/afd/military/history.html [20 July 2007]
2. United States Department of Defense, “Armed Forces
http://www.defenselink.mil/mil/afd/ [Accessed 20 July 2007]
3. Larson, Rahn, Cottonwood County Citizen Online, “Armed
Accessed [Accessed 20 July 2007]
4. en.wikipedia.org “Armed Forces Day”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armed_Forces_Day [Accessed 20 July 2007]
5. Scheina, Robert, uscg.mil, “The Coast Guardd At
http://www.uscg.mil/history/h_Cgatwar.html [Accessed 20 July 2007]
6. defenselink.mil, “History of Coast Guard
http://www.defenselink.mil/afd/military/coastgrd.html [Accessed 20 July 2007]
7. defenselink.mil, “History of Marine Corps
http://www.defenselink.mil/afd/military/marines.html [Accessed 20 July 2007]