Military Holidays—What Do They All Mean?

Even for a military mom, sorting through the days and months dedicated to those who serve can be confusing. Here's a cheat sheet.

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Posted in , May 14, 2018

Military holidays

Even as a military mom I have trouble keeping track of significant days and observances for our armed forces. I figure if I struggle others might too. So today I’m going to give you a cheat sheet for some of the major holidays that honor our men and women who are—and have—served in the military.

Since it’s May, let’s begin with the two most confused days—Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day.

--Armed Forces Day comes first on May 20. It was set aside to recognize those who are currently serving in our military. This includes active duty and reservists.

--Memorial Day is always the last Monday in May. This year that’s May 28. This day is to honor those who have died during their time of service in the military.

And to cloud the issue even more there are also two more days:

--Veterans Day, celebrated on November 11, is the day set aside those who have previously served in the military.

--K9 Veterans Day is another day recognizing those who have served and is celebrated on March 13.

Many military families regret the fact much of American doesn’t know the difference between these three days. It’s considered poor manners to wish a mother whose child is currently deployed a Happy Memorial Day.

Other confusing aspects of the military calendar is the fact that there are commemorative days for each branch of the military and each branch of the military reserve.

--Air Force Birthday (September 18) and Air Force Reserve Birthday (April 14)

--Army Birthday (June 14) and Army Reserve Birthday (April 23)

--Navy Birthday (October 13) and Navy Reserve Birthday (March 3)

--Marine Corps Birthday (November 10)  and Marine Corps Reserve Birthday (August 29)

--Coast Guard Birthday (August 4) and Coast Guard Reserve Birthday (February 19)

In addition there are days celebrating the families who’ve lost loved ones during their time of service:

--Gold Star Wives Day (April 5)

--Children of Fallen Patriots Day (May 13)

--Gold Star Mother and Father’s Day (last Sunday in September)

Finally there are also days set aside to commemorate extreme heroism, such as Four Chaplains Day on February 3. And days that mark a battle or an end of a conflict, such as Pearl Harbor Day on December 7.

There are months designated to honor our military:

--March is the Month of the Military Caregiver.

--April is the Month of the Military Child.

--May is Military Appreciation Month.

--June is PTSD Awareness Month.

There are many other days set aside to honor military service, but these are the major ones. As a military mom, I’m grateful to our nation for setting aside these remembrances for those who are willing to serve. 

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