May is National Military Appreciation Month, but what does that mean? According to Military.com, this is the month in which “the President makes a proclamation, reminding Americans of the important role the U.S. Armed Forces have played in the history and development of our country". In the eyes of many, it has become just another opportunity for politicians and regular civilian folks to thump their chests and spout platitudes in support of our service men and women, to make themselves feel better.
This is a sad state of affairs to arrive at, particularly since we are still a Nation at war. But there is valid reason for that feeling, even as Military.com, the semi-official National Military Appreciation Month website, NMAM.org and countless others list scores of events, both national and local, recognizing specific days.
I’ll be succumbing to the hooah, in a sense. All month I’ll be posting pieces, a few which will be in a series devoted to single topics. Some will be tied to themes for specific days, as they are listed on the calendar. I’ll also be posting events scheduled in recognition of those dates. If I miss one, or you know of one you would like to see listed, contact me on Facebook at UncommonSenseBlog, by FB email at firstname.lastname@example.org or regular email at DWilliamsBlog@gmail.com.
May 1st is Loyalty Day, a holiday made official in 1958, though it was celebrated first as such in the 1920’s. Communism was on the rise in the early part of the 20th Century, and some felt the traditional May Day festivities most knew from ancient times was not just a pagan holiday, but a Communist celebration as well. So, on Loyalty Day, we are to reaffirm our allegiance to the vision of our Forefathers. We are also to recognize and appreciate those who display that loyalty by service in our military.
May 2nd is the date in 1945 that Germany ceased fighting.
May 7th is the day Germany officially offered unconditional surrender, thus ending the European conflict portion of WWll.
May 8th is now celebrated as VE Day, or Victory Europe Day in both the U.S and Great Britain. Though, with the passage of years and the passing of the majority of “The Greatest Generation”, recognition of this day has greatly diminished.
May 9th is Military Spouses Day. The date of this holiday changes each year. President Ronald Reagan created this day in 1984 to fall on the Friday before Mother’s Day. In recent years, the original intent of appreciating those who sacrifice through their spouse’s has more significance with families facing four, five and even seven or more deployments. Few things can test a relationship more than spending five of the ten years of marital bliss on different continents.
May 11th is Mother’s Day. While this is not a holiday created in recognition of our armed forces or history, it is a date of special significance in the military. It is often said that while not every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine or Coast Guardsman has a wife or girlfriend, if you are here, you had a mother. Ask any military mom who she views Mother’s Day while her child is deployed in a war zone and you may begin to get a feel for the special poignancy of this day for her, and for her child.
May 16th Wear Purple For Peace Day, is another one of those days that is not actually about our military, or even directly about war. Lore states this day was created by those who feel the only reason we have not been contacted (or have we?) by intergalactic visitors is because our world is not yet peaceful enough. So, if you want to join in and encourage a visit from ET, wear purple and keep your eyes on the skys. Of course, some in the anti-war crowd have appropriated this day, as sort of an antidote to the next day of recognition –
May 17th, Armed Forces Day. Prior to 1949, each branch of our military had it’s own day. They all still do, though they are generally the anniversary of the date of creation of that branch. As of 1950, all have agreed to celebrate the 3rd Saturday of May as a unified “Armed Forces Appreciation Day”, recognizing all who currently wear our nation’s uniform.
I've received a note from Duncan Munro, MSgt USAF (Ret), the National Events Director of National Military Appreciation Day 2014. I want to thank him first, for his service to our country, and second for his continued service to his fellow veterans. I also owe him big thank you for letting me know about this addition -
May 24th is National Rosie The Riveter Day. The Governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez issued a proclamation in honor of the long overdue acknowledgment of the 16 million women who worked the factories during WWll in support of the war effort. A quick Google search found the Rosie The Riveter Trust, an urban national park in Richmond, California. Check out the website and if you can, visit the site. If I ever get to the Richmond, CA area, I'll be taking a tour.
May 26th is Memorial Day. Contrary to popular belief, this is not a day to remember to shop for mattresses and every other consumer good. This holiday is always celebrated on the last Monday of May. Originally called Decoration Day, the name was officially adopted in 1882. The tradition began in the south during the Civil War, when women would place flowers and decorate the graves of those who died during the War Between The States, or as they called it down south, the War of Northern Aggression.
The tradition continued following the War, with women placing flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate fallen, many of which were unmarked. It was soon understood by Washington that this gesture held the promise of offering healing for both sides; those who lost loved ones but could not realistically travel to their graves would be comforted knowing that as they honored the dead buried near them, others both North and South, were doing the same. Establishment of this holiday aligned well with the Victorian custom of the time of visiting cemeteries and creating extravagant headstones and memorial markers.
May 28th is Amnesty International Day. On this date in 1961, a British lawyer wrote an article for the UK publication, “The Observer” entitled, “The Forgotten Prisoners”. This one piece set off a world-wide firestorm, with reprints appearing around the world. In the ensuing years, Amnesty International has championed prisoners of conscience across the globe, received official consultative status from the UN and has even won several Nobel Peace Prizes. Many feel this group, because of their decision to grant Prisoner of Conscious status to those who refused to fight in Viet Nam is a singularly anti-military organization.
Many of their activities are still focused on the treatment of prisoners, including those who are non-traditional prisoners of war, to call their basic ideals anti-military is misleading. Just as those who use, misuse or abuse the organization’s mission statement and position papers for their political agendas regarding our current wars. The truth that all should remember is perfectly expressed in the the words of Douglas MacArthur, “The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war”.
That MacArthur quote is the best reason for National Military Appreciation Month. Ponder it a while.
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