President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country.
On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under one department — the Department of Defense.
The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions and air shows. Armed Forces Day is celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May, and Armed Forces Week begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May. Because of their unique training schedules, National Guard and Reserve units may celebrate Armed Forces Day/Week over any period in May. The purpose of Armed Forces day is to honor Americans serving in the five services – the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
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