Armed Forces Day was first celebrated on May 20, 1950. Since then, it has been recognized annually on the third Saturday in May. This year, activities to honor American forces will take place in communities around the country on May 18, with some celebrations lasting the weekend, while others are week-long events in recognition of Armed Forces Week.
The United States Armed Forces were unified under the Department of Defense after World War II. In 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of a unified Armed Forces Day to replace separate celebrations by the five U.S. service branches: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense Armed Forces Day website, "President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country."
The original proclamation, issued by President Truman, read:
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.
A few of the many events in the nation this year include a week-long event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; concerts, parades, and exhibits in Torrance, California; tributes at the USS LST 393 Veterans Museum in Muskegon, Michigan; and VFW Post 2480's Armed Forces Day Rockin' Bluegrass Festival in Clinton, Ohio.
Fold3 is committed to preserving U.S. military records, including the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served. While we pay tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces every day at Fold3, we invite you to join us in a nation-wide celebration of Armed Forces Day on Saturday, May 18, 2013.