May brings about warm weather, fresh flowers, and outdoor recreation here in Southern Maryland. This year it is especially heartening to begin our return to normalcy amidst the rising numbers of fully vaccinated people within our community. One event to remember in May is Military Appreciation Month. Congress designated May as Military Appreciation Month in 1999, which makes this the 22nd year of celebration, although many of the individual days (such as Memorial Day) have been around far longer.
Some important days to note are:
- May 1, 2021 – Loyalty Day: Loyalty day is celebrated the 1st of May. Originally called “Americanization Day” and first celebrated in 1921, President Eisenhower gave it its current moniker in 1955. This year marks the Centennial (100th anniversary) celebration of Loyalty Day.
- May 7, 2021 – Military Spouse Appreciation Day: Military Spouse Appreciation Day is celebrated the Friday before Mother’s Day. President Ronald Reagan first proclaimed “Military Spouse Day” a holiday in 1984, but it wasn’t until 1999 that Congress declared it part of Military Appreciation Month.
- May 8, 2021 – VE Day: VE Day, which stands for “Victory in Europe” Day, is celebrated the 8th of May. VE Day commemorated the end of WWII on the European front. This year marks the 76th anniversary of VE Day and the USO solicited memories and photos from military family members. You can read about some of their stories at USO’s Stories.
- May 9, 2021 – Mother’s Day: Mother’s Day is celebrated the 2nd Saturday of May. It traces its origins back to Anna Jarvis in 1908 but was officially declared a holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. A special acknowledgment is given to both mothers actively serving in our military and those at home who have children in our armed forces for their sacrifices and dedication.
- May 15, 2021 – Armed Forces Day: Armed Forces Day is celebrated the 3rd Saturday in May. Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson created Armed Forces Day in 1949. Armed Forced Day bridges the gap between Veteran’s Day (for those who have served) and Memorial Day (for those who gave their life while serving) and is the appropriate day to celebrate all of our military members, both past and present.
- May 31, 2021 – Memorial Day: Memorial Day is commemorated the last Monday in May. The origins of Memorial Day are widely contested due in large part to the division of the country in the American Civil War. Surprisingly, Memorial Day was not officially recognized nationwide by that title until 1967 and was not moved to the last Monday in May until the Uniform Monday Holiday Act took effect at the federal level in 1971. So, while this year marks the 50th anniversary of the officially titled Memorial Day in its Monday spot, our nation has honored the duty and sacrifices of our military for far longer. If you’d like to read more about Memorial Day and ways you can honor our fallen, please check out our article from 2019. The 32nd annual Memorial Day National Concert will air this year on Sunday, May 30th, 2021 at 8 ET on PBS. #MemDayPBS.
Military Appreciation Month is truly a time for all citizens to pause and reflect on the duty and sacrifices of our servicemen and women for the good of the nation. This past year has provided a unique opportunity for citizens to interact with service members who were tasked to aid in COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts. Please take a minute to recognize the rights and luxuries we all have due to the people who fought to uphold them. And if you see a veteran or service member, a thank you or quiet show of respect is generally warmly appreciated.