Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day is observed next on Saturday, May 17th, 2025 (355 days from today).

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Many Americans celebrate Armed Forces Day annually on the third Saturday of May to pay tribute to men and women who serve the United States’ armed forces.

Armed Forces Day is a special holiday for people around the world to come together and thank the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. First conceived by President Harry S. Truman, the holiday was established in 1949. The creation of a one-day celebration for all five branches of the United States military makes sense given the recent unification of the Ministry of Defense.

History of Armed Forces Day

The history of the United States Armed Forces spans more than two centuries. The United States rapidly evolved from a new nation that fought for independence against Great Britain from 1775 to 1783, fighting the landmark American Civil War from 1861 to 1865, to prove their bravery and strength during the Second World War, and eventually emerged as a world superpower in the late 20th century. The United States Armed Forces consisted of five branches of military: Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.

The origins of the United States Army date back to 1775 when the Continental Congress established the Continental Army, Continental Navy, and Continental Marines, commanded and led by General George Washington. This newly assembled military force fought the British in the American Revolutionary War with French troops at their side, leading to the Treaty of Paris and its independence. In 1789, the new Constitution authorized the president as commander-in-chief of the army, with the power to make laws, levy taxes, and declare war.

Since its inception, the main responsibility of the Army division of the armed forces has been to fight on the ground and deploy troops to take over. The United States Army Corps of Engineers primarily controls rivers in the interior of the United States. After the war against the British Army, the US Army remained relatively small and operated in peacetime. It changed in the 1940s when the Air Force became a completely separate unit of the Army Air Forces. In 1947, control of the United States Army was transferred from the Department of War to the Department of Defense.

The major wars in which the United States Army participated were the Indian War of 1790, the War of 1812, the American Civil War of 1861, the Spanish-American War of 1898, and World Wars I and II, in 1917 and 1941, respectively, Korea War in 1950 and Vietnam War in 1965. The US military also participated in the 1991 Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan.

As of 2019, the United States Armed Forces is under the command of the Departments of Defense and Coast Guard, authorized by the Department of Homeland Security.

The President of the United States is the commander-in-chief, and they exercise their powers through the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who oversees combat operations.

Tradition of Armed Forces Day

Many events take place in cities across the United States to pay tribute to those who serve on this day. These include activities showcasing military service to the public such as airshows, parades, opening days, educational exhibits for children and 'Support the Army' motorcycle demonstrations.

Many people also go on picnics to celebrate the day with family members and friends who are veterans. There are several discounts vouchers of shopping on this day. Some host military dress parties or war movie marathons, with plenty of classics to choose from such as “Saving Private Ryan”, “Black Hawk Down”, “Fury”, “Apocalypse Now”, “The Hurt Locker”, “Full Metal Jacket”, “American Sniper” and “Unbroken”.

Posters and other materials used to promote Armed Forces Day often display images of Americans in the armed forces wearing their uniforms. Some of the posters feature collages of images, including images of people in the armed forces with their families or friends, as well as the United States Flag.

Some truths about military uniforms

  • Army goes from green to blue

The current military wears blue instead of green in memory of George Washington and the men in his first command.

  • The Marines want their uniforms to be unique

The Marines have gone to the extent of including the letters "USMC" when designing their uniforms so that other branches cannot use their design.

  • Stripes on Navy uniforms are a fashion choice

It turned out that there was no meaning to the three pin stripes on the Navy overalls other than the fact that most men decorated their collars with various types of white stripes; therefore, it became part of the uniform.

  • There is a special reason for wearing bell bottoms by Sailors

Sailors have to wear the wide-bottomed pants commonly so that they could be easily folded when on missions that got their feet wet.

  • The flag patch has the opposite purpose

The American flag patch on the uniform features stars on the right and stripes on the left to create the effect of a blowing wind.

Why Armed Forces Day is important

  • The armed forces deserve our respect

Participating in the United States Armed Forces is a great selflessness that deserves recognition. Soldiers and other service members risk their lives every day to keep citizens safe. It is a great opportunity for ordinary people to show their support for that sacrifice.

  • It helps spread awareness and understanding

National Armed Forces Day is a chance for education of both yourself and others. This holiday was originally created to provide citizens with more understanding about the military and its role in our society. We can do our job well by spreading knowledge and understanding.

  • It is for all five branches of the military

The Army is made up of five branches including Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Armed Forces Day is dedicated for all branches. It was originally used to replace separate branch gratitude holidays, but they are still celebrated today.

How to celebrate Armed Forces Day

  • Go to a parade

In tradition, National Armed Forces Day is celebrated by organizing a lot of parades in honor of military service. Open houses, air shows, and other local celebrations often accompany a parade. There are many local parades throughout the United States. There's definitely one near you!

  • Visit a public military exhibition

Military or government personnel will often set up historical or educational exhibits for the public. Visiting a showcase like this can be eye-opening as well as enjoyable. This also provides an opportunity for civilians to come into direct contact with military personnel.

  • Visit a military memorial or cemetery

On National Armed Forces Day, a lot of special ceremonies are celebrated at military memorials or cemeteries. Buglers performed the memorial song "Taps" in honor of fallen soldiers. This is a great way to show respect and appreciation to members of the military.


Armed Forces Day has been observed the third Saturday in May.


Saturday, May 20th, 2023

Saturday, May 18th, 2024

Saturday, May 17th, 2025

Saturday, May 16th, 2026

Saturday, May 15th, 2027

Founded by

Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson on August 31st, 1949

Also on Saturday, May 17th, 2025

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