Okay, I’m just going to admit it: I know next to nothing about the day, except that it was set up to honor all the armed forces in a particular country, and several countries around the world observe the day. For the US, it’s today, May 20th, but the date isn’t static (of course not, it’s the US, we just have to have our three day weekends so we have an excuse to drink ourselves stupid and then be able to call in with a hangover sick the next day, only that excuse doesn’t work for this holiday—it’s always on a Saturday). In the US, it falls on the third Saturday of May, and was meant to replace each individual branch’s celebration days, but all five are still celebrated by their respective branches, while everyone gets to use this one.
The first Armed Forces Day in the US, according to Wikipedia, was on May 20th, 1950, although the day was created on August 31st 1949, with the intent to honor all five branches by then—Army, Navy, Air Foce, Marines, and Coast Guard—after the branches were consolidated in the US Department of Defense. The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions and air shows (also according to Wikipeda)—you know, the usual stuff we do on national holidays that don’t involve fuzzy bunnies and baby chicks, turkeys, hams, or lots of teeth-rotting candy (oh yeah, or green beer, can’t forget that). 😛
According to the experts at Wikipedia, Chattanooga, Tennessee holds the record for the longest continuously running Armed Forces Day Parade, with 2016 being the 67th year for it, having started in 1950. I never knew that little fact before today, but then again I’m not from Tennessee, although I have some ancestors that were from there, and Kentucky, too (so yes, when I say their names, the emphasis gets put on the first syllable). I don’t believe we have any parades around here for Armed Forces Day, although the bigger cities like Indianapolis (Indy to us Hoosiers) and Fort Wayne might. We reserve the parades for Independence Day, but we do manage to acknowledge Memorial Day and Veterans Day every year. On the Sunday closest to Veterans Day (assuming the day itself doesn’t fall on a Sunday, otherwise obviously it gets observed on that day) my church brings in the flags (US and United Methodist flag—don’t know why the last one, it has nothing to do with veterans) and we salute the flags, say the Pledge of Allegiance and all that, and have all veterans who are physically able to stand so we can embarrass the heck out of them thank them for their service. On Memorial Day we observe those church members who died in service to their country, as well as all other fallen veterans. I don’t remember if we do anything for Armed Forces Day (realizing of course that the celebration is actually part of Armed Forces Week), so I guess I’ll have to wait and see if anything is said tomorrow, since nothing was last Sunday.