Your Guide to Celebrating National Armed Forces Day
There are numerous holidays throughout the year dedicated to celebrating active-duty service members and retired military personnel. Among them, is National Armed Forces Day. Celebrated each year on the third Saturday in May, it’s the perfect opportunity to express your gratitude and appreciation for those who’ve put themselves on the front lines of defending democracy.
These men and women spend days, months even years away from their families, serving to ensure that our great nation doesn’t fall under fire and that our freedoms aren’t harmed. As a result of their efforts, we can all sleep peacefully at night.
On National Armed Forces Day, we celebrate the heroes who amaze us with their great sacrifices. Here are some of ways you can express your appreciation and show these individuals that you honor their sacrifices.
The History of Armed Forces Day
Before we provide ideas on how to celebrate National Armed Forces Day, it’s important to know how this special military appreciation day started and why it’s celebrated each year.
Prior to 1949, the Army, Navy and Air Force each had their individual days of celebration. On August 31, 1949, prompted by the Department of Defense unifying the various branches, Defense Secretary Louis Johnson created Armed Forces Day.
Johnson created National Armed Forces Day to honor the work of the military, both stateside and abroad. Then, on February 27, 1950, President Harry S. Truman granted this Presidential Proclamation and National Armed Forces Day was set in motion. Since then, we’ve celebrated it on the third Saturday in May each year.
How to Celebrate Armed Forces Day
Historically, National Armed Forces Day is celebrated in much the same way Independence Day and Memorial Day are: with parades, air shows and military receptions. But there are many, many other ways to show your gratitude for service members. Here are a few simple ways to express your sentiments:
- By wearing red, white and blue and flying the American flag
- By thanking a man or woman who has served or is currently serving in the Armed Forces
- By sending a note of appreciation to a member of the military
- By donating to a veteran or other military-based organizations
- By sending care packages to those serving the country in overseas missions or operations
- By volunteering through a veterans’ service organization
On National Armed Forces Day, military members and veterans can enjoy shopping and dining discounts, as well as military celebrations. If you aren’t a military member or veteran, you can show your respect for active-duty military members and veterans by attending parades, picnics, and other festivities in their honor.
As National Armed Forces Day approaches, be on the lookout for ways to thank a service member and celebrate the individuals who put their lives on the line to protect America’s citizens.
Ways to Thank a Service Member
Sometimes we get so caught up in celebrating the different holidays associated with our country— like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July—we forget why we’re able to celebrate them. Without the sacrifice and hard work of service members, the freedoms we enjoy each and every day wouldn't be possible.
While holding a party is nice, it’s even more important to say thank you. There are countless ways to thank a service member, and we hope you'll keep some of these in mind all year round, not just around the holidays.
- Give a simple thank you. If you see someone out in public who is wearing a uniform or something referencing their status as a veteran, give them a smile and simply thank them verbally for all that they’ve done for our country.
- Put together care packages for soldiers. There are many organizations that do this on a regular basis, and it’s easy to get involved. Find an organization near you and help them put together care packages. The other option is to donate items to those who assemble and send the packages. Through a care package, you can easily send a little something to honor their bravery and thank them for all they do, day in and day out.
- Volunteer with a charity or organization. There are many ways to say thank you, and one of the best is to help those who have served our country. From the American Legion to a local vet center in your city, veterans’ organizations are always looking for volunteers. A few hours of your time each week will better their lives.
- Donate to an organization. Money talks, and this is a great way to say thank you by donating to wounded warriors, counseling and more. There are several organizations out there that benefit veterans and active service members in different ways.
There are so many other ways to thank a service member. Simply taking the time to let them know that you acknowledge and appreciate them is often enough to put a smile on their face and uplift their spirits.
How to Honor a Veteran Personally
Veterans have served our country in ways we can't possibly imagine. What they go through overseas is, for some, unspeakable—yet, they still follow the call to serve our country and to protect our freedoms.
For many, freedom means more to them than their lives, which is why they were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. Unfortunately, they don't always get that level of recognition and support, which is why we've put together different ways to honor a vet—whether it's a total stranger or a family member or friend who came back from a war.
- Respect the flag. As a symbol of our freedom, it's important that the flag is shown respect—especially in the presence of those who’ve served. Ensure that any neighborhood flags flying are in good condition, and properly dispose of any that are not. Some of these acts may not be seen or noticed, but they still honor vets. Many veterans will also help you in this task, which gives you a chance to bond with them over something you both find important.
- Show up for them. There are many ways to honor a vet, but one of the easiest is just to show up. Show up to a parade, come out for a ceremony or even just take time out of your day to visit them and devote a moment of your time to spending it with them. Many veterans simply appreciate the fact that you’re willing to talk with them or to spend time with them, and that they’re not forgotten.
- Write a note. This can be done if it's someone in your family or even someone you don't know. If it's a family member, a letter or card expressing your love for them and your appreciation for what they do can be a heartfelt gift that they can treasure forever. For those you don't know, sending a letter or postcard thanking this unknown veteran can mean the world to them, especially coming from a total stranger.
Finding different ways to honor a vet may be the easiest task there is. In many cases, it doesn't require a lot of money. Instead, it just requires your time and a smile.
Look Patriotic While You Celebrate Armed Forces Day
Whether you’re a military veteran or simply want to dress in patriotic attire on National Armed Forces Day, The Flag Shirt has you covered! Explore the wide array of men’s and women’s patriotic clothing and accessories. From American Flag T-Shirts to patriotic face masks, you’ll find the perfect clothing item to wear as you celebrate National Armed Forces Day this year.
Best of all, your new patriotic clothing can be worn any day throughout the year, including national holidays such as the Fourth of July and Veterans Day. No matter how you celebrate National Armed Forces Day, make sure to thank all the military members and veterans you see throughout the day for their service and for keeping the country safe.
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