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Armed Forces Day

Prior to 1949, each branch of the military held it's own day of celebration as independent units. After the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense, a single day of celebration was established and each branch was asked to recognize the third Saturday in May as Armed Forces Day.

Armed Forces Day recognizes all the branches of service, not as individual units, but as a solid, cohesive force working together to create the greatest military power in the world. The day is celebrated to pay special tribute and give thanks to all the men and women who serve in the different branches of the military.

Armed Forces Day is also used as an opportunity to give civilians a glimpse of the armaments and hardware that is used by soldiers in all branches of the military to protect the rights and freedom that is valued in this country.

Events are held across the country and at U. S. military bases around the world to celebrate Armed Forces Day. They include parades, flag ceremonies, speeches, open houses at military installations, air shows, memorials at veterans' cemeteries, and public appearances by politicians and top ranking military personnel.


  • During his presidency, Harry S. Truman decided to establish a single holiday to thank military personnel for serving in support of the country.

  • In 1947, President Truman signs the National Security Act into law. It unified all branches of the military under the Secretary of Defense. This leads to the creation of the National Military Establishment.

  • In 1949, Louis Johnson, the Secretary of Defense announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days.

  • On May 20, 1950, the first Armed Forces Day was celebrated using the theme "Teamed for Defense" which showcased the unification of all military forces under one government department.

  • In the Presidential Proclamation of February 27, 1950, President Truman stated that "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."

  • Today, Armed Forces Day is celebrated around the country and is part of Armed Forces Week.

The branches of the United States military include the Marines, the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, and the Coast Guard.

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