Recognize Armed Forces Day by attending a local parade or event
Motorcycles line up on Milwaukee’s lake front near Army vehicles to take part in the nearly 500 cycle 13th Annual Support the Troops Ride on May 21, 2016.
By Rindi White
Kicking off summer and closing out Armed Forces Week is Armed Forces Day, a day of recognition created Aug. 31, 1949, to honor Americans serving in the five U.S. military branches, and to commemorate the military branches being combined under the U.S. Department of Defense.
Celebrated on the third Saturday in May, some communities observe the day with a parade.
The Armed Forces Day Parade held in Bremerton, Washington, claims to be the largest and longest-running Armed Forces Day Parade in the nation. The parade begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, in downtown Bremerton, and includes the Puget Sound Energy Heroes’ barbecue, with a free hot dog, chips and soda for any active-duty, reserve, retired or veteran service members. According to the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce, the parade draws an annual attendance of between 25,000 and 40,000 people from all over western Washington. This year marks the 69th year the parade has been held.
Chattanooga, Tennessee, boasts the second-longest continuously running Armed Forces Day parade. The community this year celebrated its 68th parade, though the city moved its parade date to May 5, to allow Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps and school bands a chance to participate.
Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, holds an annual Armed Forces Day open house May 20 to help visitors learn about the post’s role in keeping the nation’s armed forces ready for action. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is open to the public, although adults will need to present identification upon entering the installation. Attendees can go on guided installation bus tours, help fill sandbags, make personalized identification tags, get camouflage face paint, see military equipment displays, take aim in a marksmanship gallery and more.
Lawton, Oklahoma, is hosting a blowout Armed Forces Day Music Festival and Red Dirt BBQ competition at Elmer Thomas Park; see their Facebook page for more information.
The Grissom Air Museum in Peru, Indiana, is offering free admission to active-duty service men and women, as well as to veterans, in honor of Armed Forces Day. Find out more at the museum website.
The Milwaukee Armed Services, Hal’s Harley-Davidson and the Harley-Davidson Museum are holding a Support the Troops Ride, beginning with a pancake breakfast at Hal’s Harley-Davidson. Attendees will ride to the museum to enjoy displays from all five military branches, a performance by the American Legion Band, gallery talks and an Armed Forces ceremony. Museum attendance is free for active-duty, reserve, retired or discharged military service members.
The Minter Field Air Museum in Shafter, California, is offering free admission to anyone on May 20, plus free homemade ice cream, cookies and punch to the first 50 visitors. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Find out more at www.minterfieldairmuseum.com.
The Alexandria Harmonizers will hold a free concert at 3 p.m. at the Oswald Durant Center for the Arts in Alexandria, Virginia. According to the group, the concert will be a performance of patriotic music “in gratitude for those who have served and the families who have made that service possible.”
Jersey City, New Jersey, will celebrate the day at Liberty State Park with a Liberty Lightning 9K race, plus military vehicles on display, including helicopters, a V-22 Osprey, armored vehicles and more. The day will include military demonstrations and performances by the 63rd Army Band and the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon and Drum and Bugle Corps, along with much more. Find out more at the event website.
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan is honoring Armed Forces Day with a weekend of fitness and design activities for children, to help them learn about the variety of people who serve our country. Children can make service ribbons at various times Saturday and Sunday, make an eagle puppet to celebrate U.S. Veterans, and take part in an interactive PopFit Kids and the Fit Five workshop. Many events require participants to sign up beforehand. Find out more at the website.
The West Point Band will hold a concert on Sunday, May 21, to commemorate Armed Forces Day. The concert will run from 2 to 4 p.m. at Eisenhower Hall Theatre at West Point, New York.
Check local calendars in your community for more Armed Forces Day activities!