President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military men and women for their patriotic service in support of our country. On 8/31/1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense. The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions, and air shows. Read more about the history of Armed Forces Day at http://www.defense.gov/afd/history.aspx.
In addition to Armed Forces Day, the month of May is National Military Appreciation Month, American Military History Month, and Memorial Day. Besides honoring fallen patriots of the past, let’s also recognize the heroes of the present. In general, military people do not choose to serve because they have great expectations of fame or reaping huge rewards from military service. Most are ordinary people with simple motives – honor, duty, and love of country. Here’s how you can show them your appreciation and support: send a card or letter of thanks to the troops, send a care package to service members overseas, adopt a soldier, help homeless veterans, donate to military charities, fly the American flag, and teach your kids about military history. For even more ideas, go to: http://www.nmam.org/participate.htm. And finally, whenever you see a person in a military uniform, shake their hand and say “thank you for serving our country.”