Armed Forces Day May 17, 2014

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Kathleen Mackey
  • 49th Medical Support Squadron commander

Several nations hold an annual Armed Forces Day in honor of their military forces. The United States Armed Forces Day theme for 2014 is:  Courage, Honor, Strength, Duty, Dedication, Excellence, Valor, Commitment, and Professionalism. Americans celebrate Armed Forces Day annually, on the third Saturday of May. It is a day to pay tribute to men and women who serve in the United States' armed forces. Armed Forces Day is also part of Armed Forces Week, which begins on the second Saturday of May.

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated on Saturday, May 20, 1950.  In a speech announcing the establishment of that 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 to the establishment of a desirable peace." In an excerpt from Presidential Proclamation 2873 of Feb. 27, 1950, Mr. Truman stated:

"Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, I call upon my fellow citizens to display the flag of the United States at their homes on Armed Forces Day and to participate in exercises expressive of our recognition of the skill, gallantry, and uncompromising devotion to duty characteristic of the Armed Forces in the carrying out of their missions."

The theme for that day was "Teamed for Defense," which expressed the unification of all military forces under one government department. There were several other purposes for holding Armed Forces Day. It was a type of educational program for civilians. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the day was designed to expand public understanding of what type of job was performed and the role of the military in civilian life. 

So why am I telling you all this? You represent the military every time you go outside and mingle with the civilian population. When you sign a lease, when you arrive at a base, when you are at Wal-Mart picking up the milk or eating out at Chili's, you are representing the military! Look at the 2014 theme.  Remember, this is how the country sees you and the military--you need to ask yourself, "If my country expects me to be Courageous, Honorable, Strong, Dedicated, striving for Excellence, and Professional, am I meeting their expectations?" If you are living up to the core values every day, then the answer should be a resounding, "YES!"

We must exemplify these traits at all times. We owe it to those who served in the past, for those who serve with us presently, and for those who will come after us. We owe it to the American citizens whom we defend, and most importantly, we owe it to ourselves.