What is Armed Forces Day (US)?

Introduction

In the United States, 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 (the fourth if the month begins on a Sunday, as in 2016).

Background

First observed on 20 May 1950, the day was created on 31 August 1949, to honour Americans serving in the five US military branches – the US Army, US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Air Force and US Coast Guard – following the consolidation of the military services in the US Department of Defence. It was intended to replace the separate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Days, but the separate days are still observed, especially within the respective services.

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions and air shows. The United States’ longest continuously running Armed Forces Day Parade is held in Bremerton, Washington. In 2019 Bremerton will celebrate the 71st year of the Armed Forces Day Parade.

Because of their unique training schedules, National Guard and Reserve units may celebrate Armed Forces Day/Week over any period in the month of May.

On 19 May 2017, President Donald Trump reaffirmed the Armed Forces Day holiday, marking the 70th anniversary since the creation of the Department of Defence.

Aside from the Armed Forces Day the Armed Forces and the National Guard Bureau are honoured on the following days:

  • 29 March: Vietnam Veterans Day (All US Military Branches).
  • Last Monday of May: Memorial Day.
  • 14 June: Flag Day and Army Day (United States Army).
  • 04 August: Coast Guard Day (United States Coast Guard).
  • 18 September: Air Force Day (United States Air Force).
  • 13 October: US Navy Birthday (United States Navy).
  • 27 October: Navy Day (United States Navy).
  • 10 November: Marine Corps Birthday (United States Marine Corps).
  • 11 November: Veterans Day.
  • 13 December: National Guard Day (National Guard of the United States).
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