Armed Forces Day

This day is set aside by the Department of Defense, in cooperation with civilian communities, to recognize the role of the Armed Forces of the United States in promoting the general welfare of the country. The date is the third Saturday in May. It commemorates the establishment of the Department of Defense in 1947, and to some extent has taken the place of both "Army Day” and "Navy Day.”

Since 1953 the keynote of the day has been expressed in the slogan "Power for Peace.” Military units parade, and military posts, ships, and bases throughout the world schedule "open house" activities showing the public the latest developments within the Armed Forces.

Theme and Purpose

The most powerful peacetime force in U. S. history—its men, ships, planes, and missiles strategically located around the world in combat readiness against any emergency—will spearhead our observance of the Armed Forces Day during the period 10 to 18 May.

It will be no small celebration.

At the request of the President, our Commander in Chief, the Services will do everything possible within security regulations to enable our citizens to see the mighty force that has been created as a “Power for Peace” against the threat of Communist aggression.

The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and their Reserve components and auxiliaries are prepared to hold “open house” for all our people, young and old, from city and farm, to celebrate the event.

To permit use of personnel and equipment in more than one installation and community, the Secretary of Defense has directed that Armed Forces Day may be celebrated on any day “not earlier than the second Saturday in May nor later than the Sunday following the official Armed Forces Day.”

Not only in the United States, but in more than 70 countries where our forces are stationed, crowds of free world citizens will witness our Armed Forces Day ceremonies. In some overseas areas, the theme will be expanded to emphasize how we and our allies are “Partners for Peace.” For those of us who are serving abroad, this day will be an opportunity to show our foreign friends our genuine good will and understanding of our common goal— peace with freedom and justice.

In this booklet you will get a general picture of the U. S. Armed Forces as they are today. In your role of host, you should familiarize yourself with what all the Services are doing, so that you can participate with your fellow’ servicemen and women in telling the Armed Forces story and how we are building “Power for Peace.”

Purpose of Armed Forces Day

A. To give Americans opportunity to honor members of Armed Forces.

B. To help them become better acquainted with defenses on which our security and freedom depend.

Armed Forces Day - US Navy

  1. Armed Forces Day observances are held annually on the third Saturday in May and demonstrate the unity and common purpose of the Armed Forces in the fulfillment of national security requirements. Media kits are prepared by OASD (PA), and internal material is furnished by the Office of Information for the Armed Forces.
  2. This national program may be supported locally by Open Houses and by community sponsored programs stressing the annual Armed Forces Day theme.
  3. a. Observances planned by naval commands should concentrate on the command's and the Navy's contribution to national security.
  4. b. Participation in community sponsored programs should be in the form of a meaningful report on the status of the Armed Forces. appropriate to the audience involved.
  5. c. Appearances by Navy personnel as guest speakers and as commentators at film showings are recommended as most effective and economical ways to participate in community sponsored programs.
  1. The Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) is responsible for coordinating Armed Forces Day programs at the national level, lie issues instructions through a National Armed Forces Day Coordinator in his office for the conduct of such observances.
  2. The Chief of Information represents the Navy in the coordination of Armed Forces Day programs at the national level and issues implementing directives. as necessary. for such observances each year.
  3. The provisions of this instruction concerning participation in community relations events apply to local and regional Armed Forces Day programs conducted by Navy activities.
  4. Armed Forces Day is observed in overseas areas in the manner determined most suitable by the Commander of the Unified Command concerned. The observance is conducted internally for the United States personnel and dependents, and may be open to the general public or may be held in the public domain of the host nation, as determined appropriate, and desirable. These observances will not be combined with other United States or foreign holidays.
  5. In localities where two or more Military Department are represented. joint participation in community-sponsored programs is encouraged.
  6. The office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Departments. Defense Agencies, and the Unified Commands will, within their available funds, defray the expenses necessary for the observance of Armed Forces Day within their respective areas of responsibility.

J. William Middendorf II, Secretary of the Navy, Department of the Navy Public Affairs Regulations SECNAVINST 5720.44 14 June 1974

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