As a guy who loves celebrating holidays, I must nevertheless admit that I had had no idea what Armed Forces Day was, distinct from Memorial Day and Veterans Day, though I saw it on my calendar each year. And I never even thought much about it until very recently.
“On August 31, 1949, Louis Johnson, who was the United States’ Secretary of Defense, announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. The event stemmed from the armed forces’ unification under one department – the Department of Defense. The Army, Navy and Air Force leagues adopted the newly formed day. The Marine Corps League declined to drop support for Marine Corps Day but supports Armed Forces Day too.”
Okay, so Memorial Day honors the war dead, and Veterans Day commemorates, well, military veterans.
“Armed Forces Day was a day for the military to show ‘state-of-the-art’ equipment to Americans. It was also a day to honor and acknowledge Americans in the armed forces. Parades, open houses, receptions and air shows were held at the inaugural Armed Forces Day.” It is celebrated on the third Saturday of May. It is also part of Armed Forces Week, which begins on the second Saturday of May.
Ah, so like that expensive parade scheduled in November that kind of remind me of the Soviet Union or North Korea? And how are we supposed to treat military contractors such as Halliburton, who made nearly $40 million from the Iraq war?
“Since Armed Forces Day is not a federal holiday, many military installations are available for public viewing for those wishing to take part in the celebration or to learn more about our country’s military. Some other ways to celebrate the special occasion include wearing red, white and blue; flying the American Flag, talking with or writing to a military member, donating to military-based organizations, or sending care packages for those serving overseas.”
About three dozen other countries have Armed Services Day, though not at the same time: June 30 in the United Kingdom, October 6 in Egypt. Here are some other dates.
Admittedly, I struggle with militarism, big time. I worry about what President Eisenhower, a former general, called the military industrial complex, “what Eisenhower called a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions… we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence… The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”