Celebrating a tradition of heroes in the military
August 28, 2008 · Updated 2:13 PM
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 preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea and air defenses.
General Omar N. Bradley
Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1950
While many are looking forward to the upcoming three-day weekend marking Memorial Day, most of us tend to overlook the fact that there is another holiday honoring Americas military that is being observed May 19.
Celebrated the third Saturday of every May, Armed Forces Day was first observed on May 20, 1950 to commemorate the unification of the Army, Navy and Air Force under one department the Department of Defense. Prior to the declaration of Armed Forces Day, each of the military leagues and orders celebrated specific service days. Once Armed Forces Day was created, the Army, Navy and Air Force leagues adopted the newly formed holiday. The Marine Corps League declined to drop support for Marine Corps Day but support Armed Forces Day also.
In announcing the formation of Armed Forces Day, President Harry S. Truman said Armed Forces Day, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by Americas defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, toward 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.
Teamed for Defense was the theme of the first Armed Forces Day, chosen as a way of expressing the unification of all the military branches under a single governmental department. Although this was the theme for the day, there were several other reasons for commemorating Armed Forces Day. It was a type of education program for civilians in which there would be an increased awareness of the Armed Forces. It was designed to expand the publics understanding of what job is performed and the role of the military. It was also a day to honor and acknowledge the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States.
An article published in the New York Times 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 to their country all over the world. Armed Forces Day wont be a matter of parades and receptions for a good many of them. They will be in line of duty and some of them may give their lives in that duty.
Fifty-two years later, that still holds true. Men and women of the United States military continue to serve their country at home and abroad. And as we are sadly reminded every day as military operations continue in Afghanistan and Iraq, they continue to give their lives in service to their country.
May 19 is a day to be grateful that there are men and women among us willing to make the sacrifices needed to protect our freedom and to make our nation safer for all of us.
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
To contact a member of The Marysville Globe/Arlington Times editorial board Kris Passey or Scott Frank e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.