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Armed Forces Day in United States

Quick Facts

Armed Forces Day is a national observance in the United States on the third Saturday of May each year.

Local names

NameLanguage
Armed Forces DayEnglish
Día de las Fuerzas ArmadasSpanish
יום כוחות מזויניםHebrew
عيد الجيشArabic
국군의 날Korean
Armed Forces DayGerman

Armed Forces Day 2014

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Armed Forces Day 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015
List of dates for other years

Many Americans celebrate Armed Forces Day annually on the third Saturday of May. It is a day to pay tribute to men and women who serve the United States’ armed forces. Armed Forces Day is also part of Armed Forces Week, which begins on the second Saturday of May.

A member of the US armed forces hugs his daughter.

©iStockphoto.com/videodet

What do people do?

Many events across the United States take place on Armed Forces Day to honor Americans in uniform who served their country in times of war and peace. Those who are honored on this day include people who serve the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard. National Guard and Reserve units may celebrate Armed Forces Day/Week over any period in May because of their unique training schedules. Events and activities may include:

Certain types of music are also played at Armed Forces Day events, including at memorials and at cemeteries, as a way to respect those in the armed forces who died for their country. For example, buglers have played a bugle call, known simply as Taps, on Armed Forces Day in recent years. Taps is usually sounded by the United States military at events such as flag ceremonies, memorial services and funerals.

Public life

Traffic and parking may be affected in areas where large-scale events are held for Armed Forces Day.

Background

On August 31, 1949, Louis Johnson, who was the United States’ Secretary of Defense, announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. The event stemmed from the armed forces’ unification under one department – the Department of Defense. 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.

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated on Saturday, May 20, 1950. The theme for that day was “Teamed for Defense”, which expressed the unification of all military forces under one government department. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the day was designed to expand public understanding of what type of job was performed and the role of the military in civilian life.

Armed Forces Day was a day for the military to show "state-of-the-art" equipment to Americans. It was also a day to honor and acknowledge Americans in the armed forces. Parades, open houses, receptions and air shows were held at the inaugural Armed Forces Day.  Armed Forces Day is still celebrated nationwide today and is part of Armed Forces Week.

Symbols

Posters and other material used to promote Armed Forces Day often show images of Americans in the armed services dressed in their uniforms. Some posters show a collage of images, including images of those in the armed forces with their families or friends, as well as the United States Flag.

Themes

Some themes that were used for Armed Forces Day in the past included:

These are only a few examples, and not a full list, of the Armed Forces Day themes in previous years.

Armed Forces Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
SatMay 191990Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 181991Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 161992Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 151993Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 211994Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 201995Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 181996Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 171997Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 161998Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 151999Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 202000Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 192001Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 182002Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 172003Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 152004Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 212005Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 202006Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 192007Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 172008Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 162009Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 152010Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 212011Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 192012Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 182013Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 172014Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 162015Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 212016Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 202017Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 192018Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 182019Armed Forces DayObservance 
SatMay 162020Armed Forces DayObservance 

Other holidays in May 2014 in United States

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