Armed Forces Day in United States
Quick FactsArmed Forces Day is a national observance in the United States on the third Saturday of May each year.
|Armed Forces Day||English|
|Día de las Fuerzas Armadas||Spanish|
Armed Forces Day 2013Saturday, May 18, 2013
Armed Forces Day 2014Saturday, May 17, 2014
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.
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:
- Multi-service military displays in areas open for the public.
- Various educational activities that teach children about the armed forces.
- “Support the Troops” themed motorcycle rides.
- Large parades and other local celebrations.
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.
Traffic and parking may be affected in areas where large-scale events are held for Armed Forces Day.
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.
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.
Some themes that were used for Armed Forces Day in the past included:
- Appreciation of a Nation
- Dedication and Devotion
- Freedom Through Unity
- Power for Peace
- Prepared to Meet the Challenge
- Special Opportunity for Thanks
- Teamed for Defense
These are only a few examples, and not a full list, of the Armed Forces Day themes in previous years.
Armed Forces Day Observances
|Weekday||Date||Year||Name||Holiday type||Where it is observed|
|Sat||May 17||1980||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 16||1981||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 15||1982||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 21||1983||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 19||1984||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 18||1985||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 17||1986||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 16||1987||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 21||1988||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 20||1989||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 19||1990||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 18||1991||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 16||1992||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 15||1993||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 21||1994||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 20||1995||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 18||1996||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 17||1997||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 16||1998||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 15||1999||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 20||2000||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 19||2001||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 18||2002||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 17||2003||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 15||2004||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 21||2005||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 20||2006||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 19||2007||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 17||2008||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 16||2009||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 15||2010||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 21||2011||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 19||2012||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 18||2013||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 17||2014||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
|Sat||May 16||2015||Armed Forces Day||Observance|
Other holidays in May 2013 in United States
- Loyalty Day ―Wednesday, May 1, 2013
- Law Day ―Wednesday, May 1, 2013
- National Day of Prayer ―Thursday, May 2, 2013
- World Press Freedom Day ―Friday, May 3, 2013
- Orthodox Good Friday ―Friday, May 3, 2013
- Rhode Island Independence Day ―Saturday, May 4, 2013
- Orthodox Holy Saturday ―Saturday, May 4, 2013
- Orthodox Easter ―Sunday, May 5, 2013
- Cinco de Mayo ―Sunday, May 5, 2013
- Orthodox Easter Monday ―Monday, May 6, 2013
- National Nurses Day ―Monday, May 6, 2013
- Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War ―Wednesday, May 8, 2013
- Truman Day ―Wednesday, May 8, 2013
- Ascension Day ―Thursday, May 9, 2013
- Confederate Memorial Day ―Friday, May 10, 2013
- World Migratory Bird Day ―Saturday, May 11, 2013
- Mother's Day ―Sunday, May 12, 2013
- Peace Officers Memorial Day ―Wednesday, May 15, 2013
- International Day of Families ―Wednesday, May 15, 2013
- Shavuot ―Wednesday, May 15, 2013
- World Information Society Day ―Friday, May 17, 2013
- National Defense Transportation Day ―Friday, May 17, 2013
- Pentecost ―Sunday, May 19, 2013
- Whit Monday ―Monday, May 20, 2013
- World Autoimmune Arthritis Day ―Monday, May 20, 2013
- World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development ―Tuesday, May 21, 2013
- National Maritime Day ―Wednesday, May 22, 2013
- Harvey Milk Day ―Wednesday, May 22, 2013
- International Day for Biological Diversity ―Wednesday, May 22, 2013
- Emergency Medical Services for Children Day ―Wednesday, May 22, 2013
- African Liberation Day ―Saturday, May 25, 2013
- National Missing Children's Day ―Saturday, May 25, 2013
- Towel Day ―Saturday, May 25, 2013
- Trinity Sunday ―Sunday, May 26, 2013
- Memorial Day ―Monday, May 27, 2013
- Jefferson Davis Birthday ―Monday, May 27, 2013
- International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers ―Wednesday, May 29, 2013
- Corpus Christi ―Thursday, May 30, 2013
- World No Tobacco Day ―Friday, May 31, 2013
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