By Christine Benedict, NFRW Armed Services Committee
Ask anyone the difference between Armed Forces Day and Veterans Day and chances are most will give the wrong answer…. unlike Veterans Day (previously observed as Armistice Day – the end of World War I), which honors those who wore the uniform of our nation at war, and unlike Memorial Day, which honors only those who died wearing the uniform of our nation at war, Armed Forces Day is the proper day to honor all of the men and women currently serving as well as those who have served and sacrificed to defend our freedom. It recognizes the men and women serving in the Active, Reserve, and National Guard components of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Space Force.
Armed Forces Day was created on August 31, 1949, by then Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson to replace separate Army, Navy, and Air Force Days. The event stemmed from the Armed Forces unification under one Department of Defense by President Harry S. Truman when he signed the National Security Act into law on July 26, 1947.
Originally Armed Forces Day was a type of educational program for civilians, one in which they would have an increased awareness of the Armed Forces. It is the day to honor all who currently serve and all who have served, both active and former, in any branch of the military. It is a special day of appreciation for those serving, their families and the communities supporting them. It is also a reminder of the military's importance and the critical role it plays in our independence, security, and democracy.
There are more than 1.4 million Active Duty members and 857,261 Reserve and Guard members. Approximately 173,000 are deployed worldwide in 150 foreign countries. These are the military men and women currently serving in uniform.