History of Military Appreciation Month
In 1999, the month of May was officially designated by the U.S. Congress as Military Appreciation Month. The legislation, introduced by the late Sen. John McCain, passed unanimously on Capitol Hill, took only two months to pass and it had no amendments.
The resolution requests that the president of the United States “issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to recognize and honor the dedication and commitment of the members of the United States Armed Forces and to observe the month with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
According to congressional records, the resolution for Military Appreciation Month was introduced because leaders felt it was important to preserve and foster the honor and respect that the U.S. military deserves for vital service on behalf of the United States. Creating Military Appreciation Month made it appropriate to emphasize the importance of the U.S. military to all persons in the United States.
Particularly, American elected leaders believed creating Military Appreciation Month was important to instill in the youth of the United States the significance of the contributions that members of the U.S. military have made in securing and protecting the freedoms that U.S. citizens enjoy. The resolution also states that “…it is appropriate to underscore the vital support and encouragement that families of members of the United States Armed Forces lend to the strength and commitment of those members.”
Furthermore, American leaders believed Military Appreciation Month was important to inspire greater love for the United States and encourage greater support for the role of the U.S. military in maintaining the superiority of the United States as a nation and in contributing to world peace. Military Appreciation Month, they believed, was appropriate to recognize the importance of maintaining a strong, equipped, well-educated, well-trained military for the United States to safeguard freedoms, humanitarianism, and peacekeeping efforts around the world.
Military Appreciation Month Today
For more than 20 years, the president has issued a proclamation reminding Americans of the need to celebrate Military Appreciation Month as a tribute to those who have sacrificed to defend the nation. Current military members, including members of the Guard and Reserve, veterans and military families are honored during Military Appreciation Month.
The original resolution stipulates that “freedom and security that United States citizens enjoy today are results of the vigilant commitment of the United States Armed Forces in preserving the freedom and security. … it is appropriate to promote national awareness of the sacrifices that members of the United States Armed Forces have made in the past and continue to make every day in order to support the Constitution and to preserve the freedoms and liberties that enrich the Nation.”
The entire month of May is designated as Military Appreciation Month, but within the month of May there are various military-themed recognition days that should not be overlooked. For example, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Military Spouse Appreciation Day (the Friday before Mother’s Day), VE Day, and Loyalty Day are all opportunities to pause and remember the sacrifices of the nation’s fallen as well as the continued service of those in uniform and those who support them on the home front.
In short, Military Appreciation Month gives greater recognition for the dedication and sacrifices of individuals who serve in the U.S. military have made and continue to make on behalf of the United States. Military Appreciation Month serves as a vehicle that enables Americans to display the proper honor and pride United States citizens feel towards members of the uniformed services for their service. It enables Americans to reflect upon the sacrifices made by members of the U.S. military and to show appreciation for such service and recognize, honor, and encourage the dedication and commitment of members of the U.S. armed forces in serving the nation.
Ways to Celebrate Military Appreciation Month
1. If you have a friend or family member who is serving or is a veteran, consider reaching out to them during Military Appreciation Month and send them a token of your appreciation for their service.
2. Veterans are living history. If you’re an educator or know one, consider having a veteran share tales of military service with students during Military Appreciation Month.
3. Fly the U.S. flag or the POW MIA flag during Military Appreciation Month, or consider putting a bumper sticker or patriotic emblem on your car during Military Appreciation Month.
4. During Military Appreciation Month, use hashtags like #MilitaryAppreciationMonth and share positive stories about the U.S. military on social media.
5. Reach out to a local National Guard or Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps Reserve unit. Odds are great that they will help you develop a way that you can honor their members and families during Military Appreciation Month.
6. Donate your time or treasure to a verified military charity.
7. If you own a business, consider offering a discount to military personnel and veterans and if you are short-staffed, consider hiring a military veteran or a member of a military family.
8. Find a nearby recruiting office and stop in with some coffee, doughnuts or some bagels.
9. At your workplace, ensure you call out the veterans in your organization and thank them for their service. Encourage them to share their stories of service.
10. Find a way to send a care package to someone overseas.
Steve Alvarez is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the author of Selling War, published by Potomac Books, an imprint of the University of Nebraska Press.