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According to the Department of Defense website on the history of Armed Forces Day, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days, on Aug. 31, 1949. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces in one department - the Department of Defense. Each military league was asked to drop sponsorship of its specific service day in order to celebrate the newly announced Armed Forces Day. The Army, Navy and Air Force leagues adopted the newly formed day but the Marine Corps League declined. However, the Marines celebrate Marine Corps Day and Armed Forces Day.
The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions, and air shows. In an excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation of Feb. 27, 1950, President Harry S. Truman wrote: "Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America's 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."
In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "It is fitting and proper that we devote one day each year to paying special tribute to those whose constancy and courage constitute one of the bulwarks guarding the freedom of this nation and the peace of the free world."
Armed Forces Day is celebrated by many Americans annually on the third Saturday of May. It is a day to pay tribute to men and women who serve in the military.Events and activities may include military displays open to the public, various educational activities that teach children about the military, and "Support the Troops" motorcycle rides.
I leave you with the words spoken by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Earle G. Wheeler in 1967, "Armed Forces Day, above all, honors the dedicated individuals who wear the uniforms of their country. Each serviceman, wherever he may be, whatever his task, contributes directly and importantly to the defense of the nation. The task of each one is the task of all the Armed Forces: to protect the freedoms which underlie the greatness of America."
As I reflect, I cannot see myself doing anything other than serving my country. I love my job in the Army and what I do for my country.
Editor's note: Sgt. Stephanie Woodson, with 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, contributed to this article. The website cited is www.defense.gov/afd/history.aspx.