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Celebrating Armed Forces Day

  • Maggie Hogan Home-School Author, Speaker, and Mother
  • 2002 18 May
Celebrating Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day: Third Saturday in May
This Year’s Theme: "United For Freedom"

As I began thinking about this topic several months ago, I knew it would have more significance to me this year because of our son JB’s enlistment in the armed services. However, I must admit that I was surprised at the recent ironic turn of events. But before I get into a JB update, here’s information you can use about Armed Forces Day, May 18, 2002.


On August 31, 1949, then Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day. This single-day celebration, always the third Saturday in May, was a result of the unification of the Armed Forces under one department - the Department of Defense. President Harry Truman followed up with a proclamation on February 20, 1950. Praising the work of military services at home and abroad, President Truman’s proclamation reads, in part:

Now, therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim that Saturday, May 20, 1950, shall be known as Armed Forces Day; and I invite the Governors of the States, Territories, and possessions to issue proclamations calling for the celebration of that day in such manner as to honor the Armed Forces of the United States and the millions of veterans who have returned to civilian pursuits.

There are several reasons for Armed Forces Day:

  • to show the preparedness of our armed forces;
  • to educate civilians both in the types and duties of our armed forces;
  • to increase public understanding of the role of the military in a democratic society;
  • to showcase military equipment to the population they are protecting; and
  • to provide a day in which to honor and acknowledge the people serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.

It is often celebrated with parades and military exercises on land and on sea. Military installations are usually open to the public on Armed Forces Day (although 9/11 has changed that in many places).

Quotes to Share

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.

                                        President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953


We cannot, in this day of exploding world competition on all fronts, be content to maintain the status quo. We must also realize that the preservation of our freedom in the years ahead may require greater sacrifices from us than those made by Americans who have walked before us.
                                       General Nathan F. Twining, 1960
                                       Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff


...Word to the Nation: Guard zealously your right to serve in the Armed Forces, for without them, there will be no other rights to guard.
                                      President John F. Kennedy, 1962


  •   Write or call an active or retired member of the military to thank him for his service. You have no idea how much this is appreciated!
  •   If you live in a military community or know people who are serving in the reserves, consider doing a kind deed for them: mow someone’s lawn, cook a meal, or in some other way bless them. (This is particularly helpful for the many, many spouses who are on the home front alone while their spouse is serving elsewhere.)
  •   Don’t neglect American history studies! Patriotism should be based on knowledge, not emotions.
  •   Follow current events on a large world wall map and in your atlases. Teach your children by example that responsible citizens stay informed. (We have a unique and exceptional world wall map on our site at

For more information on Armed Forces Day, including what events may be available in your state, go to:

Update: JB

For the article explaining how, in God’s perfect wisdom, our eldest son JB ended up an Infantryman in the United States Army, please read my article "Diary of a New Recruit."  I heard from many of you after that article first appeared; your prayers and encouragement have blessed us more than I can say. Here’s a short update:

  •   November: Airborne School - sustained two stress fractures, thus unable to complete this training.
  •   December: Home on medical leave while leg healed.
  •   January: Received his post of duty - Ft. Benning. Again!
  •   February: Met a fellow from Navigators and began attending church with him. (Praise the Lord for Navigators!)
  •   March: Getting the hang of Army life.
  •   April: Assigned to drive a Bradley (Armored Personnel Carriers. I think of them as little tanks.)
  •   May: Still hasn’t received his "sign-up" bonus but does receive orders to ship out to Kuwait. (Daytime temperatures, low 110s.)

The original time frame for his departure was for later next week. However, he called last night to let us know he is leaving Saturday - Armed Forces Day! I can only write a little of what he will be doing: living in a tent, far away from any city, town or village, basically serving as a front guard/trip wire. How long will he be there? We don’t know. But we do know this - God carefully crafted His perfect plan in JB’s life; and although the world is an unstable place - God is our Rock and our Fortress, and we will rest in Him.

As you remember our servicemen and women on Armed Forces Day, pass along to your children the knowledge that these are living, breathing people with moms and dads, brothers, sisters and children, who are working around the world 24/7 protecting our freedoms in this "One nation under God."

PS - If you’d like to write JB, email me and I will send along his APO address.

Maggie Hogan is a motivational speaker and co-author of The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide, Gifted Children at Home, and other resource books. She and her husband Bob have been home schooling their boys since 1991. Involved in local, state, and national home-schooling issues, they both serve on boards of home education organizations in Delaware. They are also owners of Bright Ideas Press (, a home-school company dedicated to bringing the best practical, fun, and affordable materials to the home-school market.

Maggie's e-mail address is