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home : news : military August 18, 2017

5/19/2017 8:40:00 AM
Armed Forces Day Saturday; Memorial Day May 29th

Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

This Saturday (May 20th) is Armed Forces Day. Armed Forces Day is celebrated every year the third Saturday in May.

President Harry Truman led the effort to establish a day to honor those who served or are still serving in the US military.

Originally there were single day celebrations for each branch of the military but that changed in 1949, and in 1950, the first official Armed Forces Day took place--themed “Teamed for Defense.” In honor of the special day, B-36 Bombers flew over state capitals, a march was led by more than 10,000 veterans and troops in Washington, DC, and over 33,000 people participated in a New York City parade.

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No such great event is planned for this Saturday although there will be celebrations in some cities. There are still--especially in cities near military bases--some exercises, parades, and receptions that highlight and honor the military.

The United States' longest continuously running Armed Forces Day Parade will be held in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In Columbia County, Georgia, just west of Augusta and Fort Gordon, activities are planned for the day including an Army band concert and fireworks. In Oregon, they celebrated early--on Thursday--when a Howitzer salute and an F-15 flyover were part of the celebration at the Oregon State Capitol Mall. Another big celebration will be at the Hancock County Fairgrounds in Findlay, Ohio. But our search for events marking the day in North Carolina was fruitless.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy declared Armed Forces Day a national holiday, although it was never listed as a federal holiday for which government offices were closed. President Kennedy, speaking at the 1963 observance of the day, said: "Our service men and women are serving throughout the world as guardians of peace-–many of them away from their homes, their friends and their families. They are visible evidence of our determination to meet any threat to peace with measured strength and high resolve. They are also evidence of a harsh but inescapable truth–-that the survival of freedom requires great cost and commitment, and great personal sacrifice."

No special observance is planned in our area for Armed Forces Day, but Memorial Day is coming up next Monday (May 29th) and several things are happening in connection with that observance. Memorial Day, unlike Armed Forces Day, is a national holiday. For many years, it was celebrated on May 30th, but the legislation that moved many holidays to Mondays changed the observance to the last Monday in May.

Many confuse Memorial Day with Veterans Day. Veterans Day (November 11th) is a time to honor all who have served in the military, while Memorial Day is meant to pay tribute to those who died in service. The first Memorial Day observances were shortly after the American Civil War. Following the War Between the States, some in both the South and the North began paying tribute to their fallen heroes by placing flowers on their graves. It was first called "Decoration Day." Now, flags are placed on graves. The local DAV will be doing that next Saturday (May 27th). On Sunday evening, the VFW will have a brief ceremony followed by the lighting of luminaries in the shape of a cross on the VFW lawn. They will burn through the night as a memorial to the fallen.

On Saturday (May 27th) members of the Capt. Jeb F. Seagle Marine Corps League will have their annual flag sale at the intersection of highways 16 & 73 beginning at 8 AM.

A Memorial Day ceremony will be held near the Veterans Memorial monuments on the east side of the Courthouse Monday morning (May 29th) at 11 AM. Only the inside (around the square) lane will be blocked--and surely many will drive by without much thought to the sacrifice those being honored made on their behalf. Turnout for the event has been disappointing to say the least in recent years. For many, it has become little more than another occasion for a cookout.

If we may be allowed an editorial comment (an opinion), we believe given the fact that these men and women died serving to protect the freedoms we all enjoy, the very least we can do on this day set aside for this purpose is to take a few minutes to say 'thank you' and to honor their memory.


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