By Douglas Fehlen
Recognizing Service Members
Established by Congress in 1999, National Military Appreciation Month is intended to provide people with an opportunity to demonstrate appreciation for past and present service members. The president provides an annual proclamation, asking Americans to remember the important role of the U.S. Armed Forces in the history and development of our country.
May was designated for this observance because it contains many important military-related occasions, including Loyalty Day (5.01), Military Spouse Appreciation Day (5.06), VE Day (5.08), Armed Forces Day (5.21) and Memorial Day (5.30).
In addition to providing a platform for honoring service members, National Military Appreciation Month has a strong historical component. The observance was initiated by a group of organizers who were concerned that holidays commemorating military milestones were becoming little more than 3-day weekends of leisure. The group wanted to refocus Americans' attention and make May a month for remembering the important role of the U.S. Armed Forces in securing our freedom.
This May observance represents opportunities for individuals to share the legacy of the U.S. military with younger generations. It's a time at which we can help ensure the sacrifices of current and past members of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard and reserves - and those of their families - are never forgotten.
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There are many activities you can engage in to observe National Military Appreciation Day. A very fun and easy way to participate is by attending community events that are intended to honor service members. Across the country, local authorities and neighborhood organizations stage parades, barbecues, picnics, fairs and ceremonies designed to honor the legacy of service members. Visit the official website of National Military Appreciation Day to see events sorted by state. You'll also find a list of activities you can do to observe the occasion, including these options:
- Learn about contributions of the U.S. Armed Forces through study or by visiting a historical monument.
- Write letters (or emails) of appreciation to military veterans in your life.
- Start a drive to provide items of comfort to those who are in veterans homes.
- Invite a service member to come and speak before an organization you are affiliated with.
- Share information about National Military Appreciation Month on social networking sites.
Learn about the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, an organization that helps the children and families of special operations personnel who have been killed in combat.