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Armed Forces Day USA will be observed on Saturday, May 15, 2021


Who is Honored on Armed Forces Day?


Armed Forces Day is a joint celebration of all six branches of the U.S. military: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, and the newly created Space Force. The day honors all people currently serving in the U.S. armed forces. This includes the men and women who have served or are serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard, including the National Guard and Reserve components.


You can  demonstrate your gratitude to the men and women who have served and currently serving in the United States Armed Forces:

  • Offer a simple thank you. Sometimes this is the most honest expression of gratitude to those who serve our country.
  • Talk to veterans or active service members. Ask questions about their service, why they joined the military, and listen to their stories. A little interest can go a long way.
  • Offer to help a military spouse. While expressing gratitude to service members is encouraged, so is helping out their families. Offer to cook a meal, drive them somewhere or watch their children for a few hours.


Among the many military holidays celebrated each year is Armed Forces Day. Celebrated the third Saturday in May, Armed Forces Day falls during Military Appreciation Month and joins Memorial Day, Military Spouse Appreciation Day, and Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day) as another May military-themed holiday.


The History of Armed Forces Day


On Aug. 31, 1949, Defense Secretary Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the armed forces under one agency — the Department of Defense.


In a speech announcing the creation of the day, President Truman “praised the work of the military services at home and across the seas.” He said, “It is vital to the security of the nation and to the establishment of a desirable peace.”


In an excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation of Feb. 27, 1950, Truman stated:


“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, toward 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.”


Military Facts for Armed Forces Day


On July 26, 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act, which united all four branches of the military under one department of the government.


In 1947, the National Military Establishment was created as a result of the National Security Act.


The Department of Defense replaced the National Military Establishment in 1949.


On the inaugural Armed Forces Day, B-36 bombers flew over every U.S. state capital.


On March 18, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued Proclamation 3399, making Armed Forces Day an official national holiday.


The American flag is traditionally flown on Armed Forces Day. People also frequently wear patriotic-colored clothing to commemorate the occasion.


Sea, air and land military exercises are held on Armed Forces Day to recognize service members and display their state-of-the-art equipment.