Today is Armed Forces Day, a time when the country honors the brave members of its military forces.
Created on Aug. 31, 1949, Armed Forces Day replaced the separate Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force days with a single-day celebration stemming from the unification of all branches of the military under the Department of Defense. President Harry Truman led the effort to establish the holiday in order for Americans to unite and to honor our military heroes for their patriotic service.
President Truman in a presidential proclamation on Feb. 27, 1950, said “Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first 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.”
In honor of the first official Armed Forces 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 more than 33,000 people participated in a New York City parade.
In 1961, John F. Kennedy declared Armed Forces Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the third Saturday of every May.
The importance of this day should always be evident. The liberties we enjoy came at a great cost. The men and women of our armed forces have given of themselves — sometimes even giving their own lives — so we can all be free.
Medal of Honor recipient Retired Col. Donald “Doc” Ballard, Kansas National Guard, said Armed Forces Day is a time when America must stop and think about the price of freedom.
“Freedom just did not happen, veterans fought for it, and the military is still fighting for it today,” he said. “Military veterans, in some cases, pay with their lives; others come home with disabilities they have to live with for the rest of their lives. Families also pay a different price, to include losing a son or daughter to the war. I believe we owe the veterans and their families a huge debt of gratitude; they are the ones who paid the price for the ones who did not serve.”
Today is a day our military members rightly deserve and it’s essential we celebrate it accordingly.