On Aug. 31, 1949, U.S. Secretary of Defense 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 department, the Department of Defense. Each of the military leagues and orders was asked to drop sponsorship of its specific service day in order to celebrate the newly announced Armed Forces Day. The Army, Navy and Air Force leagues adopted the newly formed day. The Marine Corps League declined to drop support for Marine Corps Day but supports Armed Forces Day, too.
In a speech announcing the formation of the day, President Truman "praised the work of the military services at home and across the seas" and 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, Mr. 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, 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.
From the May 17, 1952, New York Times article: "It is our most earnest hope that those who are in positions of peril, that those who have made exceptional sacrifices, yes, and those who are afflicted with plain drudgery and boredom, may somehow know that we hold them in exceptional esteem. Perhaps if we are a little more conscious of our debt of honored affection they may be a little more aware of how much we think of them."
Armed Forces Day is celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May. Armed Forces Week begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May, the day after Armed Forces Day. Because of their unique training schedules, National Guard and Reserve units may celebrate Armed Forces Day/Week over any period in May.
by Roger Robicheau
Real heroes wear our uniform
You’ll see no numbers, that’s the norm
They do not strive to get rich quick
Their mission firm, oh how they click
To serve us faithful is their cause
Determined minds, they’ll never pause
Sincere, they love our country true
Sleep well my friends, they serve for you
We sometimes see them on our shore
While others brave a foreign tour
So trained and drilled to do it all
In time of need they’ll meet each call
They make a total treasured sight
No finer known, a mom’s delight
God hold them safe and keep them well
Till soldiers return home to dwell
©2002Roger J. Robicheau