Armed Forces Week (AFW) is everywhere right now. That's because it's one of the most vital weeks of military celebrations in America. The country celebrates AFW annually during the week that includes Memorial Day (May 25th) and ends on June 2nd. The week-long celebration honors the men and women who have served, both past and present. AFW is an important time to reflect on the sacrifices service members make for our country. It is also a time to show appreciation for their service by supporting them and their families. There are many ways to do this. Attend local events, fly the flag, or take the time to say "thank you."
Here is everything you should know about Armed Forces Week
Armed Force Week's Origin Story
AFW got its start back at the end of WWII. In May 1945, shortly after the Allies declared victory in Europe, President Truman proclaimed "Victory in Europe Day" (V-E Day). One year later, on May 8th, 1946, Truman announced "Victory over Japan Day" (V-J Day). This day commemorates the Allied victory in the Pacific Theater. Nationwide, many Americans called these two days "Days of Remembrance." However, in 1966 they merged into "Victory Day." Finally, in 1971, Congress proclaimed that Armed Forces Week would be celebrated each year. That brings us up to today!
What happens during Armed Forces Week?
These days, AFW is as much about honoring those who serve as it is about giving back to our community. It's a time to reflect, celebrate, and honor. Every community will have a different spin on how it honors veterans. So, to get you started, here are some ways to celebrate those who have sacrificed so much for our country.
Visit a Military Museum or Memorabilia Exhibit
AFW is the perfect time to head to a museum and learn more about America's military. In fact, there are so many museums that you'll probably have a tough time picking just one! Many museums offer free admission to active-duty military personnel and their families, so check beforehand.
Trying to find the best military museum to explore? Check out this review of the National WWI Museum. If you're in the Pittsburgh area, you might want to go to the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum. Here’s a review of the seven best museums for history lovers.
Attend a Local Parade or Ceremony
Most towns and cities will have an event planned during AFW. This could be anything from a parade down Main Street to a special ceremony at the local Veterans Affairs office. This is a great way to show your support for those who have served. Even better, you'll be getting involved with your community, too!
Volunteer at a Military Service Organization
Especially during AFW, it's important to highlight and support military service organizations. These groups often need volunteers to help with events, fundraisers, and administrative work. That way, they're able to continue to support service members, their families, and veterans. This is a great way to give back to those who have given so much to our country.
The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veteran’s organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation's largest wartime veterans service organization. It is committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in communities. The American Legion advocates patriotism and honor and promotes appreciation for servicemembers and veterans.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) is a nonprofit veterans' service organization. VFWs include eligible veterans and military service members from the active, Guard, and Reserve components. The VFW traces its roots back to 1899 when Spanish-American War veterans in New York organized an association called "The Little War That Gave Us Greater Things." Since then, membership has grown rapidly as America found itself involved in more conflicts.
AFW is an important time to celebrate the men and women who have served—and are currently serving—in the United States Armed Forces. This weeklong celebration is an exciting time to show your support for our service members. Remember, a simple thank you goes a long way.