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Armed Forces Day
  Last updated July, 2006

Origins of the Armed Forces  -  Army Day  -  Navy Day  -  Marine Day  - Armed Forces Day
Armed Forces Day is celebrated each year on the third Saturday of May.
Armed Forces Week begins on the second Saturday of May ending, the day after Armed Forces Day, on the third Sunday in May.
The National Guard and Reserve units have unique training schedules and may celebrate the Day/Week over any period in May.
1775 Continental
June 14, 1775 saw the formation of the Continental Army to serve the needs of the American Revolution.
1775 Continental
The Continental Navy was established during the American Revolutionary War  and disbanded in 1790.
1775 Continental
The Continental Marines were organized by Act of the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775 for the American Revolution with functions of ship-to-ship fighting, onboard security, and to assist in landing forces ashore. The first Marine Barracks were in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A bar called Tun Tavern was the first recruiting station.
1779 Navy The ratification of the United States Constitution in 1779 supports the existence of the Navy by giving Congress the right "to provide and maintain a navy."
1780 Continental
For reasons of economics the Continental Marines was abolished as the Revolutionary War came to a close.
1784 June
To replace the disbanded Continental Army after the American Revolutionary War the U.S. Congress created the United States Army on June 3, 1784.
1789 August
The Federal Army under the newly established War Department was established August 7, 1789.
1790 Navy The Continental Navy was dissolved in 1790 for reasons of economics.
1794 Navy Congress enacts the right to provide a navy to fight the Barbary Coast corsairs.
1798 July
Congress establishes the United States Marine Corps on July 11, 1798, placing it under the Secretary of the Navy.
1799 July
Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps began to celebrated Marine Corps Day on its birthday, July 11th, 1799.
1921 July
Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps celebrated Marine Corps Day on July 11th the last time in 1921.
1922 November
Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps begins to celebrated Marine Corps Day on November 10th. The date was changed to November 10th to reflect the establishment of the Corps to aid in the Revolutionary War. 
1922 October
Navy Day
The Navy League of the United States on October 27, 1922 established Navy Day. President Warren G. Harding gave special attention to the non-holiday when writing to Edwin Denby, Secretary of the Navy.

     "Thank you for your note which brings assurance of the notable success which seems certain to attend the celebration of Navy Day on Friday, October 27, in commemoration of past and present services of the Navy. From our earliest national beginnings the Navy has always been, and deserved to be, an object of special pride to the American people. Its record is indeed one to inspire such sentiments, and I am very sure that such a commemoration as is planned will be a timely reminder."
     "It is well for us to have in mind that under a program of lessening naval armaments there is a greater reason for maintaining the highest efficiency, fitness and morale in this branch of the national defensive service. I know how earnestly the Navy personnel are devoted to this idea and want you to be assured of my hearty concurrence."

- President Warren G. Harding

The date October 27th was offered by the Navy League to recognize Theodore Roosevelt's birthday as he has been Assistant Secretary of the Navy, supported a strong navy and the concept of a Navy Day. The date was also the anniversary of report issued in 1775 by a special committee to the Continental Congress recommending the purchasing of merchant ships to found an American Navy.

1924 Army Day Army Day finds it origins in a "Defense Test Day" That was observed only two times in each of the years 1924 & 1925
1925 May
Army Day
The second and last observance of "Defense Test Day" was disallowed by Congress. The Military Order of the World War led by Colonel Thatcher Luquer established Army Day. The day chosen to begin the observance of Army Day was May 1, 1928 in the hopes of minimizing the attention to the May 1st Communists' Workers' Day.
1929 Army Day The date of Army Day was changed to April 6th to coincide with the anniversary of the date America entered World War I.
1936 April
Army Day
President Roosevelt issued a proclamation on April 4, 1936 that Army Day be recognized by Congress as April 6th and to be observed around the nation.
1937 March
Army Day
The U.S. Congress on March 1, 1937, officially recognizes April 6th as Army Day with the passage of Resolution #5-75.
1937 Marine Corps
Marine Corps Day is still observed by U.S. Marines on bases around the world. In 1937 at a Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C. Major General Thomas Holcomb, Commandant presided over an open house for Marine Corps officers.  The cutting of a large cake in the shape of Tun Tavern began the tradition of the cake cutting at the "Birthday Ball".
1941 Army The Army of the United States was founded in 1941 to fight World War II.
1947 September
Air Force
Having operated as part of the Army becoming the Army Air Corps the U.S. Air Force was separated out as its own branch of service on September 18, 1947, by the National Security Act of 1947.
1949 April
Army Day
The last national observance of Army Day was on April 6, 1949.
  Dept. of Def. The Department of Defense was formed placing all military department under its authority.
Armed Forces

Armed Forces

Many nations honor their military forces with an annual Armed Forces Day.

     Australia and New Zealand both have "ANZAC Day", a public holiday on April 25 for the combined Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
     Brazil celebrates Dia do Soldado (Soldier's Day) on August 25th, the birthday of war hero Luis Alves de Lima e Silva.
     Canadian Forces Day, the first Sunday in June is a celebration of Canada's armed services, its heritage, and the personnel.
     Chile has two celebrations for different branches of the military, Dia de las Glorias Navales on May 21st. and Dia de las Fuerzas Armadas on September 19.
     Egypt celebrates Egyptian early successes in the Yom Kippur War that started on October 6, 1973 with an Armed Forces Day on the 10th of Ramadan (October 6).
     In India Army Day is on January 15th; Navy Day on December 4th; the Indian Air Force Day on October 8; with a combined recognition, Republic Day when all three services display full colours and guard of honor.
     Army Day (Rouz-e Artesh) in Iran is celebrated on April 18th.
     Peru's Armed Forces Day (Día de las Fuerzas Armadas del Perú) is celebrated on September 24th.
     The Singapore Armed Forces Day has the trooping of colours and a parade to celebrate on July 1st.
     May 15th celebrates San Slovenske vojske (Day of Slovenian Army) in Slovenia.
     The Republic of China in Taiwan celebrates Armed Forces Day on September 3rd.

1949 Aug.
Armed Forces
The individual Army, Navy and Air Force Days were combined together when Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced, on August 31, 1949, the creation of Armed Forces Day. The individual branches were asked to drop their specific day in favor of Armed Forces Day. The Marine Corps did not comply with the request and keeps Marine Corps Day while supporting Armed Forces Day as well.
1949 October
Navy Day
October 27, 1949 saw the last observance of Navy Day.
1950 February

Armed Forces Day

President Harry S. Truman said, "praise the work of the military services at home and across the seas," in a speech announcing formation of Armed Forces Day, "it is vital to the security of the nation and to the establishment of a desirable peace." Truman also says in the Presidential Proclamation of Feb. 27, 1950:

"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."

Purpose of the Holiday Expressing the unification of all military forces under one entity, the Department of Defense, the theme of the first Armed Forces Day was "Teamed for Defense." The holding of Armed Forces Day was to be an "educational program for civilians" and expand the understanding of the public of the role of the military in civilian life. State-of-the-art equipment was often showcased to the public. Ultimately, Armed Forces Day was a day to honor, acknowledging those who served in the United States Armed Forces.
1950 May
The first Armed Forces Day was held on May 20, 1950. Parades, open houses, receptions, air shows, all helped celebrate the holiday. 10,000 troops of all military branches marched passed the President and his party; among them were veterans, cadets, and regular military. 250 various military planes  flew over 33,000 participants intitiating Armed Forces Day in New York City. Mothballed battleships of World War II, the Missouri, the New Jersey, the North Carolina, and the Iowa were open for public viewing.  In Europe, 1.000 U.S. Troops marched in a parade for the German citizens at Templehof Airfield.
World Tension Armed Forces Day was established during heightened tensions in the world. U.S. government buildings (The property was obtained before the Communist Takeover) in Canton, China were seized by the Chinese Communist Government. The Burmese Army fought against Communist factions. Norway received U.S. military aid of two Dakota planes. Communist Cuba celebrated its 48th anniversary. 28 Soviet vessels remained in the English Channel during Western Alliance air and naval maneuvers.
1950 May

"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."
                 - Louis Johnson, Former Secretary of Defense

1950 May

"The heritage of freedom must be guarded as carefully in peace as it was in war. Faith, not suspicion, must be the key to our relationships. Sacrifice, not selfishness, must be the eternal price of liberty. Vigilance, not appeasement, is the byword of living freedoms. Our Armed Forces in 1950--protecting the peace, building for security with freedom--are "Teamed for Defense ..."
             - General Omar N. Bradley,
               Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Themes Some of the Themes of; or ideas that prevailed; over past Armed Forces Days are:

Appreciation of a Nation
Arsenal of Freedom and Democracy
Dedication and Devotion
Deter if Possible, Fight if Necessary
Freedom Through Unity
Guardians of Peace
Lasting Peace
Pillars of Freedom
Power for Peace
Prepared to Meet the Challenge
Protectors of Freedom
Realistic Deterrence
Representatives of the World's Mightiest Democracy
Special Opportunity for Thanks
Teamed for Defense

1951 May

"Real security lies in the prevention of war--and today that hope can come only through adequate preparedness."
             - General Omar N. Bradley,
               Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

1952 May
News Article
A New York Times article published on May 17, 1952 stated:

"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."

1952 May

"Armed Forces Day this year should serve to emphasize the practical application of unification in action, and to remind us of the continued need for unity in our Armed Forces and among all of our citizens in the interests of security and peace."
             - Robert D. Lovett, Former Secretary of Defense

1953 May

"It is fitting and proper that we devote one day each year to paying special tribute to those whose constancy and courage constitute one of the bulwarks guarding the freedom of this nation and the peace of the free world."
            - President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953

???? May

"Today let us, as Americans, honor the American fighting man. For it is he--the soldier, the sailor, the Airman, the Marine--who has fought to preserve freedom. It is his valor that has given renewed hope to the free world that by working together in discipline and faith our ideals of freedom will always prevail"
             - Admiral Forrest P. Sherman

1959 May

"Our Armed Forces and our national defense system represent a judicious investment of the nation's resources in the cause of peace. The return on this investment, in terms of national strength, shows the determination of the American people to preserve our way of life and to give hope to all who seek peace with freedom and justice. "

            - The Honorable Neil McElroy,
               Former Secretary of Defense, 1959

1959 May

"Close understanding between members of our Armed Forces and members of civilian communities is most important to preserve the high level of national readiness necessary for safeguarding the free world."
             - General Nathan F. Twining;
               Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1959

1960 May

"We cannot, in this day of exploding world competition on all fronts, be content to maintain the status quo. We must also realize that the preservation of our freedom in the years ahead may require greater sacrifices from us than those made by Americans who have walked before us."
            - General Nathan F. Twining;
               Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1960

1961 May

"Today we are strong enough to meet today's challenge. But the very fact that we are strong may put off the challenge to another day. The Soviets think that time is on their side. We believe otherwise. But meanwhile we cannot afford to lower our guard."
            - The Honorable Robert S. McNamara,
               Former Secretary of Defense, 1961

1962 May

"...Word to the Nation: Guard zealously your right to serve in the Armed Forces, for without them, there will be no other rights to guard."
            - President John F. Kennedy, 1962

"Only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed."
            - President John F. Kennedy, 1962

1962 May

"The support of an informed American people is increasingly important to the Armed Forces in these days of rapid technological advance, quick reaction time, and grave threat to our freedom. I, therefore, encourage members of the DoD to observe Armed Forces Day by informing the American people of our 'Power for Peace' and by confirming their faith that in our strength we will remain free."
            - The Honorable Robert S. McNamara,
               Former Secretary of Defense, 1962

1963 May

"... 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."
            - President John F. Kennedy, 1963

1964 May

"...Their contribution to our freedom and safety is measureless. Our national security depends on the maintenance of alert military forces as a deterrent to any possible aggressor."
            - President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964

1967 May

"Armed Forces Day, above all, honors the dedicated individuals who wear the uniforms of their country. Each serviceman, wherever he may be, whatever his task, contributes directly and importantly to the defense of the nation. The task of each one is the task of all the Armed Forces: to protect the freedoms which underlie the greatness of America."
            - General Earle G. Wheeler,
Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1967

1970 May

"Our servicemen and women shoulder the burden of defense as one of the responsibilities of citizenship in this free country. Having participated in protecting our rights and having met oppression on the battlegrounds of the world, they are able to appreciate and savor the blessings of citizenship in the country they serve."
            - The Honorable Melvin Laird,
Former Secretary of Defense, 1970

1970 May

"At home and abroad, military men and women are showing purpose and dedication in defending American ideas. They are performing in our country's best traditions under circumstances both difficult and complex. Thanks to their determined spirit of patriotism and professionalism, our country has a powerful and unified defense team, employing its forces in the constant quest for peace and freedom."
            - The Honorable Melvin Laird,
Former Secretary of Defense, 1970

2004 Statistics As of the fiscal year 2004 the United States Armed Forces had 485,500 soldiers on active duty and in the reserves 591,000.
In active service 71,400 were women. The Army National Guard had 325,000, Army Reserve 246,000.
19 May
© Copyright 2005 Roger W Hancock

Gulf War Statistics
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