Saturday, May 20 is Armed Forces Day in the United States. It comes after Armed Forces Week and honors all five military branches: Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Armed Forces Week begins the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May. Armed Forces Day is always the third Saturday in May. Both Armed Forces Day and Armed Forces Week fall during Military Appreciation Month which includes Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day), according to Military.com.
Victory in Europe Day is on May 8 and is the date that the Nazis formerly surrendered to the Allies of World War II. Military Spouse Appreciation Day is May 12.
The celebrations come before Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday of May. Memorial Day remembers the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.
Prior to the National Security Act of 1947, the United States government’s military and intelligence agencies were structured differently. Before the act, the defense of the United States consisted of the Department of War (Army) and the Department of the Navy. On July 26, 1947, this changed. The long title of the enacted military restructuring bill reads: “An Act to promote the national security by providing for a Secretary of Defense; for a National Military Establishment; for a Department of the Army, a Department of the Navy, a Department of the Air Force; and for the coordination of the activities of the National Military Establishment with other departments and agencies of the Government concerned with the national security.”
The act merged the Army and Navy into the National Military Establishment (NME), headed by the newly created role of Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal. Forrestal was appointed by President Harry S. Truman and was the Secretary of the Navy during World War II.