All About Armed Forces Day celebrated on May 20, 2017

What is Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day has celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May. Armed Forces Week begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May. 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 and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under one department — the Department of Defense. Each of the military leagues and orders was asked to drop sponsorship of its specific service day to celebrate the newly announced Armed Forces Day. The Army, Navy and Air Force leagues adopted the newly formed day. The Marine Corps League declined to drop support for Marine Corps Day but supports Armed Forces Day, too.

In a speech announcing the formation of the day, President Truman “praised the work of the military services at home and across the seas” and said, “it is vital to the security of the nation and the establishment of a desirable peace.” In an excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation of Feb. 27, 1950, Mr. Truman stated:

“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, towards 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”.

The theme of the first Armed Forces Day was “Teamed for Defense.” It was chosen as a means of expressing the unification of all the military forces under a single department of the government. Although this was the theme for the day, there were several other purposes for holding Armed Forces Day. It was a type of “educational program for civilians,” one in which there would be an increased awareness of the Armed Forces. It was designed to expand public understanding of what type of job is performed and the role of the military in civilian life. It was a day for the military to show “State-of- the art” equipment to the civilian population they were protecting. And it was a day to honor and acknowledge the people of the Armed Forces of the United States.

According to a New York Times article published on May 17, 1952: “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 of their country all over the world. Armed Forces Day won’t be a matter of parades and receptions for a good many of them. They will all be in the line of duty, and some of them may give their lives in that duty.”

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions, and air shows. In Washington D.C., 10,000 troops of all branches of the military, cadets, and veterans marched past the President and his party. In Berlin, 1,000 U.S. troops paraded for the German citizens at Templehof Airfield. In New York City, an estimated 33,000 participants initiated Armed Forces Day “under an air cover of 250 military planes of all types.” In the harbors across the country were the famed mothballed “battlewagons” of World War II, the Missouri, the New Jersey, the North Carolina, and the Iowa, all open for public inspection. Precision flying teams dominated the skies as tracking radar were exhibited on the ground. All across the country, the American people joined to honor the Armed Forces.

Armed Forces Day History – United States Department of Defense. (n.d.). Retrieved from  Below are some ways to celebrate Armed Forces Day.


There are many ways to celebrate Armed Forces Day. Some attend community events, while others celebrate the special occasion by wearing red, white and blue; flying the American Flag, talking with or writing to a military member, donating to military-based organizations, or sending care packages for those serving overseas.


2017 New Jersey Armed Forces Day Festival

May 20th, 2017
Liberty State Park
Audrey Zapp Dr., Jersey City, NJ 07305

With a spectacular view of Lady Liberty herself and the Hudson River skyline, it will be time for family fun and great competition, while allowing us to honor and reflect upon the young people serving this great nation. Along with military displays and demonstrations represented by every branch of our nation’s armed forces, there will be music, food, and vendors.  The festival will officially commence with the Liberty Lightning 10K and the posting of our nation’s colors and an official announcement by the Festival G
rand Marshal, the Marine Crops 29th Commandant, General Alfred M. Gray. There will be something to see for everyone and more importantly, by supporting this great cause, we will be supporting our veterans and the comm
For more information visit Armed Forces Day Festival here  

11th Annual Armed Forces Freedom Ride
May 21st, 2017
Meet at 7:00 am

Kickstands up at 10:00 am
Barbs Harley Davidson
926 E Black Horse Pike, Mount Ephraim, NJ

Be a part of the celebration and ride with local Military Officers and Enlisted Ranks from all over the USA, Government officials, local celebrities, and friends who start at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. After the ride, enjoy a BBQ lunch with music, ceremonies, K-9 demonstrations, Tug of War, as well as contest and prizes.
For more information, please visit

*We will add more Armed Forces Day events as they are published. 

Armed Forces Day

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