Armed Forces Day is celebrated this year on Saturday, May 20, 2017. Thanks to President Harry S. Truman, it’s a day to pause and pay special tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. President Truman wanted to honor our country’s heroes for their military service and sacrifice in support of the United States of America, and so he led the effort to establish a holiday that would bring our citizens together to honor our nation’s military. The first official Armed Forces Day took place on May 20, 1950 and was themed “Teamed for Defense.” In honor of the special day, B-36 Bombers flew over state capitals, a march was led by more than 10,000 veterans and troops in Washington, D.C., and over 33,000 people participated in a New York City parade.

On March 18, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed Proclamation 3399, declaring Armed Forces Day as a national holiday. The Proclamation said,

“Whereas the survival of our cherished freedoms is dependent in large measure upon the capabilities of our armed forces to discourage totalitarian aggression; and

Whereas the armed forces of the United States serve as a unified team, at home and across the seas, in the pursuit of a durable peace; and

Whereas the strength of our armed forces rests not alone upon their active and reserve members, our industrial productivity, and our human resources, but also upon the understanding and support of an informed American people; and

Whereas we seek to acknowledge and to manifest our appreciation for the dedication and self-sacrifice of the members of our armed forces and their families:

Now, Therefore, I, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America and Commander in Chief of the armed forces of the United States, do hereby proclaim the third Saturday of May in 1961 and the third Saturday of May in each succeeding year as Armed Forces Day.”

Marking Armed Forces Day in 1963, President Kennedy said, “Our Servicemen and women are serving throughout the world as guardians of peace-many of them away from their homes, their friends and their families. They are visible evidence of our determination to meet any threat to the peace with measured strength and high resolve. They are also evidence of a harsh but inescapable truth-that the survival of freedom requires great cost and commitment, and great personal sacrifice.”

Yours In Patriotism,

The Honorable Hershel W. Gober

National Commander