Armed Forces Day Pays Tribute to Selfless Service

by   |   dalewand@bju.edu   |  
ROTC students photo for Armed Forces Day

“Thank you for your service” is a familiar acknowledgment of U.S. military members and first responders. On May 18—Armed Forces Day—the nation figuratively will give an appreciative hug to those who are currently serving.

After World War II, President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a day to honor men and women serving in all branches of the U.S. military (Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy). For the 70th consecutive year, parades, observances, ceremonies, receptions and more will be held across the country to mark the national holiday.

The City of Greenville will host an Armed Forces Day parade, featuring military vehicles, high school bands, Junior ROTC demonstrations and more, starting at 4 p.m. May 18 along Main Street (from Coffee Street to Augusta Street). Static displays will open at 2 p.m. at One City Plaza.

“I believe it is important to honor current and retired military personnel because of their sacrifices,” said BJU sophomore communication major Jonathan Curtis, an Army ROTC member. “Many have given between 5 and 10 years and some 20 to 30 years of their lives fighting or working in the military.

“No one is going to get rich off of being a soldier and they know that. They also know it means time away from the people they love for months at a time to protect their brother to their right and left. Soldiers not only sacrifice their lives, as in life or death but make sacrifices in many other areas.”

BJU Entering Second Year of ROTC Program

BJU recently completed its first academic year of Reserve Officers’ Training Corp (ROTC) partnership agreements with Air Force ROTC Detachment 770 hosted by Clemson University and Army ROTC Paladin Battalion hosted by Furman University.

“These crosstown agreements provide our students a variety of options for military service, including military leadership as commissioned officers and active reserves, and they will gain superb leadership experience that aligns with our emphasis on leadership development,” BJU President Steve Pettit said.

History of the Holiday

In 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day, and the first official Armed Forces Day took place on May 20, 1950. Through proclamation in 1961, President John F. Kennedy established Armed Forces Day as a national holiday.

Each year, Armed Forces Day centers on a unique theme designed to highlight the hard work and dedication of our service members. The first was “Themed for Defense”—selected as a way to show that all branches of the military had been united under one department of the government. This year’s theme is “For the Nation. For the People.”

Fast Facts

  • Thirty-one presidents have served in the military. President Theodore Roosevelt received the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor.
  • B-36 bombers flew over every state capitol on the first Armed Forces Day celebration.
  • The longest-running official Armed Forces Day parade is in Bremerton, Washington, which will be held for the 67th time.
  • An all-in-one Armed Forces Day is celebrated in nearly 40 other countries, including Armenia, Egypt, Indonesia and Spain.
  • Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday of May. It should not be confused with Veterans Day on November 11, which is self-explanatory, and later this month Memorial Day, which honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

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