Today is a day of recognition that often flies under our special days/holidays radar. Especially with Memorial Day beckoning followed by Flag Day, Father's Day and the big bang of July 4th. But Armed Forces Day should get our attention - and respect - today.
Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May. It falls near the end of Armed Forces Week, which begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May.
An effort to create a single holiday to honor and thank military members for their patriotic service was led by President Harry S. Truman. On Aug. 31, 1949, then Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day. President Truman also announced the holiday in a presidential proclamation on Feb. 20, 1950. All branches of the military were asked to celebrate on this day and they complied on the first Armed Forces Day which was held the following year on May 20, 1950.
The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions and air shows. Americans just don't do that any longer. Such festivities are saved for the big holidays such as the upcoming Memorial Day celebrations which certainly merit all the attention they receive.
What is sad is that you would have to believe that many Americans don't even know there is an Armed Forces Day. Or when it is. That shouldn't be. It just isn't right when you think of the tens of thousands of Americans proudly serving our country. And, of course, all who have served including dwindling numbers of World War II veterans. Through this past Dec. 31, there were 1,369,532 people were on active duty in the armed forces with an additional 850,880 people in the seven reserve components. That comes to 2 million-plus reasons for each and every American to be grateful today. We should all stop today and pause and thank those who serve. Especially those in potential combat areas. Our service personnel protect all of us. Never lose sight of that. Impress that notion upon your children and grandchildren.
They can be called upon at a moment's notice to perform risky duties for our safety and benefit. They train hard both physically and mentally. The sacrifices of all military personnel are many. Appreciate that. Today they deserve our respect and a well-intentioned salute.