MAY 19 - Armed Forces Day

MAY 19, 2012* - Armed Forces Day

Several nations of the world hold an annual Armed Forces Day to recognize, venerate, and honor their military forces.

United States

In the United States, Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May. The day was created in 1949, and was a result of the consolidation of the military services in the Department of Defense. It was intended to replace the separate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Days, but observance of these days, especially within each particular service, continues to this day.

The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions and air shows. The United States' longest running city-sponsored Armed Forces Day Parade is held in Torrance, CA. In 2009, Torrance celebrated the 50th Armed Forces Day Parade.

Armed Forces Day is celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May, and Armed Forces Week begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May. Because of their unique training schedules, National Guard and Reserve units may celebrate Armed Forces Day/Week over any period in May. The purpose of Armed Forces day is to honor Americans serving in the five services – the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

United States armed forces

The armed forces of the United States, which are known as "United States military", "United States armed forces", and "armed forces of the United States" are the overall unified military forces of the United States. The United States military was first formed by the second Continental Congress to defend the new nation against the British Empire in the American Revolutionary War. The Army, Marine Corps, and Navy were commissioned in 1775, in anticipation of the declaration of independence in 1776. The Coast Guard originated as the Revenue Cutter Service, which was formed in 1790. The Revenue Cutter Service merged with the United States Life-Saving Service in 1915 to become the Coast Guard, now an agency of the Department of Homeland Security and can be transferred to the Department of the Navy by the President or Congress during a time of war. The United States Air Force originated as the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps in 1907 and became an independent service in 1947.

From the time of its inception, the military played a decisive role in the history of the United States. A sense of national unity and identity was forged out of the victorious Barbary Wars, as well as the War of 1812. Even so, the Founding Fathers were suspicious of a permanent military force and not until the outbreak of World War II did a peacetime army become officially established.

The President is commander-in-chief of the military, with the Department of Defense, headed by the Secretary of Defense, as the principal organ by which military policy is carried out. The September 11 attacks prompted the formation of a new civilian agency, the Department of Homeland Security, to coordinate and consolidate a counter on internal United States threats.

The U.S. military is composed of almost three million personnel, of which approximately half are reserve personnel. The U.S. military is one of the largest militaries in terms of number of personnel. The U.S. military draws its manpower from a large pool of volunteers and as such conscription is not a current source of personnel. The U.S. military receives $711 billion per year in funding, constituting approximately 50 percent of world military expenditures. The U.S. armed forces as a whole possess large quantities of advanced and powerful equipment, which gives them significant capabilities in both defense and power projection.

United States Army emblem:
United States Marine Corps emblem:

United States Navy emblem:

United States Air Force emblem:
United States Coast Guard:


All branches are part of the uniformed services of the United States and are under civilian control with the President of the United States serving as Commander-in-chief, per the United States Constitution. All except the Coast Guard are part of the Department of Defense, which is under the authority of the Secretary of Defense, also a civilian. The Coast Guard falls under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, but during wartime, the President may place the Coast Guard under the Department of Defense through the Department of the Navy.

To coordinate military action with diplomacy, the President has an advisory National Security Council headed by a National Security Advisor. Under the President is the United States Secretary of Defense, the head of the Department of Defense and a member of the Cabinet.

Both the President and Secretary of Defense are advised by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which includes the head of each of the service branches, led by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

*Armed Forces Day will be celebrated as follows:
                 2011 – May 21
                 2012 – May 19