By Steve Hicks, Staff Writer

 

May is Military Appreciation Month, which recognizes the efforts of those who serve in the United States military.

 

Military Appreciation Month plays a crucial role in fostering awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by the military community. It is a time designated to honor and recognize the contributions, sacrifices and service of armed forces personnel, past and present, and it provides a platform for education and dialogue about the experiences of service members, veterans, and their families.

 

Sen. John McCain proposed the month-long observance in 1999, and Congress chose May because of the multiple, military-related holidays throughout the month.

 

Loyalty Day: May 1
A lesser-known day of observance is Loyalty Day. Celebrated on May 1, Congress designated it as “a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom.” Originally established as “Americanization Day,” President Dwight Eisenhower renamed it in 1955.

 

Victory in Europe (VE) Day: May 8
Marking the end of a long, deadly war, VE Day observes the end of World War II on the European front. Since this momentous occasion in 1945, much of the world continues to celebrate VE Day on May 8 every year. May 2024 marks VE Day’s 79th anniversary.

 

Military Spouse Appreciation Day: May 10
President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed Military Spouse Appreciation Day in 1984 to honor the sacrifices made by America’s military spouses to support their service members. Celebrated on the Friday before Mother’s Day, Congress declared the holiday as part of Military Appreciation Month in 1999. As Reagan noted in 1984, military spouses in many instances have “subordinated their personal and professional aspirations to the greater benefit of the service family.”

 

Armed Forces Day: May 18
Observed on the third Saturday in May, Armed Forces Day honors the men and women currently serving, as well as those who have previously served and sacrificed to defend our freedom. Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson established this day in 1949 to replace separate days that recognized the various services. This change stemmed from the armed forces’ unification under the Department of Defense by President Harry Truman when he signed the National Security Act into law in 1947.

 

Memorial Day: May 27
Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May, and it honors service members who have died in military service to the nation. The holiday’s roots date back to the post-Civil War era when citizens would informally create spring flower memorials on the graves of fallen soldiers. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May instead of a set calendar day. By 1971, the three-day weekend for federal employees went into full effect.

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