On May 20, the federal holiday Armed Forces Day, is a time to honor those who have served our country and made it possible to enjoy living in a free nation.
Armed Forces Day is observed annually on the third Saturday of May as a day dedicated to paying tribute to men and women who serve.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, as of 2013, there were 1,387,493 personnel serving in active duty in the United States and 1,259,000 serving in the different reserve branches. As of Sept. 11, 2011, there were just over 214,000 women serving in active duty. That is 14.6 percent of all active duty personnel.
In 1947, the Armed Forces of the U.S. were united under one department which was renamed the Department of Defense in 1949. President Harry S. Truman supported the creation of a day for the nation to unite in support and recognition of military members and their families.
On Aug. 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced that Armed Forces Day would take the place of other individual branch celebrations and all branches of the military would be honored this single day.
The tradition was developed to honor the five branches of the military: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard.
Traditionally, Armed Forces Day was celebrated with parades, open houses, receptions and air shows. Today, many events and activities take place and may include, multi-service military displays in areas open for the public, various educational activities that teach children about the armed forces and large parades and other local celebrations. In the United States’ the longest continuously running Armed Forces Day parade is held in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
This May 20:
• Send a care package to military personnel overseas.
• Fly the American flag.
• Visit friends at a local veteran’s hospital or nursing home to show your gratitude.
• Attend the 18th annual Scranton/Lackawanna Armed Forces Veterans Parade. The parade starts at the Gino Merli Veterans Center on Mulberry Street in Scranton, at 11 a.m. Taking part in the parade will be local National Guard members, VFW and American Legion representatives, Boy Scout and Girl Scout Troops and more.