Friday, May 20, 2011

Days of Strength: Military Birthdays & Armed Forces Day

Photo credit: Chattanooga Pulse
Freedom is never free. 

Armed Forces Day, c. 2010
 First, there's the Army.
It's been around since ... well, since the beginning. It totally created the idea of a voluntary force. But the US Army didn't celebrate a "birthday" until 1924. Then it celebrated again in 1925. Both times were on National Defense Test Day. It was not a popular holiday.
The date got moved to May Day in 1928 to compete with World Communism Day. Huh?
In 1936, FDR officially moved Army Day to April 6, the date we entered World War I.

Then there's the Navy.
From 1922-1950, Navy Day was celebrated on October 27 for two main reasons: In 1775, the Continental Congress decided to re-outfit merchant ships as warships, hence the idea of a naval corps was born. The other reason is that October 27 is the birthday of a former Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt.

And the Marine Corps.
Ah, the Marines. They date to the Revolution, too. And like much about our Revolution, they find their way back to Philadelphia. Born on Nov. 19, 1775, the Marines said fare-thee-well after the Revolution was over.  It was too costly. But in 1798 they were back and under the jurisdiction of the Navy.
Marine Corps Day traditionally was celebrated on the Marine Corps' birthday, Nov. 10.

2011 Armed Forces Day poster
Don't forget the Coast Guard. 
Alexander Hamilton wouldn't: As Secretary of the Treasury, he created the first Coast Guard in 1790 for the express purpose of collecting US tariffs. Coast Guard Day traditionally was celebrated on August 4.

And then there's the Air Force.
Air Force Day was a completely different holiday. The Air Force was newer than any other military branch. On August 1 in 1907, the Army created an aeronautical division. On August 1 in 1947, President Truman recognized this branch of the military with an official Air Force Day, a part of the US Army. Now the Air Force is its own division of the military, the US Air Force.

United: The Dept. of Defense
In 1947, a governing body for all branches of the US military, was created: the Department of Defense. A few years later, all the military holidays were officially consolidated as well. Hence, Armed Forces Day, a day given to honor all the branches of the US military.

The original Armed Forces Day proclamation is here:
President Truman announces Armed Forces Day
Pres. Truman celebrates the first Armed Forces Day, 1950.

(Sources: Department of Defense,, NYTimes archives, Wikipedia) 

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