In honor of Armed Forces Day celebrated this year on Saturday, May 15, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has released this year’s poster. (See accompanying image.) The poster can be downloaded here.
President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our active-duty military members for their patriotic service in support of our country.
On August 31, 1949, his 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 U.S. Armed Forces under the Department of Defense through the National Security Act.
DOD reports that Secretary Johnson described the first Armed Forces Day in 1950 as a day that marks the “… combined demonstration by America’s defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.”
The New York Times paid tribute to Armed Forces Day with an article published on May 17, 1952 which read in part:
“This is the day on which we have the welcome opportunity to pay special tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces … to all the individuals who are in the service of their country all over the world. Armed Forces Day won’t be a matter of parades and receptions for a good many of them. They will all be in line of duty and some of them may give their lives in that duty.”
“It is our most earnest hope that those who are in positions of peril, that those who have made exceptional sacrifices, yes, and those who are afflicted with plain drudgery and boredom, may somehow know that we hold them in exceptional esteem. Perhaps if we are a little more conscious of our debt of honored affection they may be a little more aware of how much we think of them.”
Excerpted from “The History of Armed Forces Day“.