President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday for citizens to thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country. In a speech announcing the creation of the day, he "praised the work of military services at home and across the seas." He said, "It is vital to the security of the nation and to the establishment of a desirable peace." Then August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.
So what is the difference between Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Armed Forces Day?
These three holidays should not be confused.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday that remembers and mourns people who have died in U.S. military service.
Veterans Day, also a federal holiday, honors the service of all U.S. military veterans, both living and deceased.
Armed Forces Day celebrates everyone currently serving in the U.S. armed forces. Unlike Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day is not an official federal holiday.
The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions, and air shows. This tradition continues to be celebrated in some American communities and on military bases throughout the world.