The mass of America is familiar with the major federal holidays honoring our military veterans, but there are many days set aside throughout the year to pay homage to veterans of the armed services in both small and large groups. Here is a list of official and unofficial military holidays and other special days.
Military Holidays & Other Days of Honor
Four Chaplains Day, February 3rd
This day is to remember the Four U.S. Army Chaplains who gave their life jackets up when their transport ship was torpedoed in 1943. From different faiths and different backgrounds, these four “preached courage” and are remembered for their bravery. The Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation was established in their memory and furthers the “unity without uniformity” cause.
K-9 Veterans Day, March 13th
This unofficial holiday is nonetheless important for those who serve/have served alongside our furry soldiers. The United States K-9 Corps formed in 1942, although war dogs served both sides in WWI.
The acceptable breeds for the K-9 Corps are German Shepherds, Belgian sheep dogs, Doberman Pinschers, Collies, Siberian Huskies, Malamutes and Eskimo dogs. They provide us with services like search and rescue, detecting explosives, scout, and enemy subdue.
Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, March 30th
The negativity that so many anti-war Americans felt toward the Vietnam War was unfortunately directed at its veterans, even as they returned home, and this day is a humble attempt to remind veterans from this war that they are appreciated and honored for answering their nation’s call. This day is a recent addition to military days (since 2011).
Gold Star Wives Day, April 5th
Gold Star Wives Day recognizes the widows/widowers whose spouses died in service (or of service-related disabilities) of the U.S. Military.
National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM), May
May holds more individual military holidays and special days of recognition than any other month, and hosts myriad celebrations, parades, and community gatherings for this entire month.
Military and Veterans Caregiver Month, May
Although there seems to be differences in dates in the past, according to the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, the month of May is also a time to honor caregivers of military and veterans. There are many ways to celebrate these unsung daily heroes and one is through the Foundation’s Hidden Heroes Campaign.
Loyalty Day, May 1st
A day set aside to express loyalty to our nation and our freedom, Loyalty Day commences National Military Appreciation Month. Established in 1921.
Silver Star Service Banner Day, May 1st
Officially recognized starting in 2010, the tradition of waving a silver star banner to honor veterans who return home either wounded or ill has been practiced since 1917. Modern celebrations include donating to the Silver Star Families of America and/or sharing stories, experiences, and appreciation via social media using the hashtag #SilverStarService.
Military Spouse Appreciation Day, May 6th
#MilitarySpouseAppreciationDay #MilitaryFamilies #MilitarySpouseAppreciation #MilitarySpouseDay
On the Friday preceding Mother’s Day, we honor the support and sacrifices given by the spouses and families of all military persons. In 2016, this occasion falls on May 6th, but the date is different each year. Mother’s Day is always the second Sunday in May.
V-E Day, May 8th
Victory in Europe Day celebrates Germany’s surrender in Europe to Allied forces, ending hostilities in this theater of war in WWII.
Children of Fallen Patriots Day, May 13th
This day honors the families and especially the children who lost a parent in the line of duty. It is also a day to raise awareness of services for these children, such as are offered by the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, who offer college scholarships and educational guidance.
Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May
A day to honor and thank all members of the 5 branches of the military: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy.
Memorial Day, Last Monday in May (Federal)
One of the most widely known and celebrated military holidays, Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day. The entire nation remembers and honors all those who have died in service to the United States of America.
D-Day, June 6th
The anniversary of the 1944 Allied forces invading German-occupied France on the beaches of Normandy is remembered year after year for the massive sacrifice–over 9,000 allied troops lost–and for the powerful effort it took to gain solid ground for Allied troops. This was the largest invasion in history. President Eisenhower addressed airmen, soldiers, and sailors in his Order of the Day address, stating, “The eyes of the world are upon you.”
Flag Day, June 14th
Celebrated since 1885, Flag Day is a day for simply honoring our flag and all it represents. June 14, 1977, is the day Congress chose the Stars and Stripes for our flag.
National PTSD Awareness Day, June 27th
#PTSDAwareness #PTSDAwarenessDay #NationalPTSDAwarenessDay
Increasing awareness of PTSD is important for veterans and everyone they are in contact with. Honoring those who serve(d) us means learning about and aiding in coping with the stresses and culture shock of returning from war to civilian life.
Independence Day, July 4th (Federal)
#4thofJuly #FourthofJuly #IndependenceDay
Celebration of America’s independence from Great Britain has taken place since the 18th century, but July 4th was officially declared a federal holiday in 1941. Fireworks, barbeque, family and friends–July 4th celebrations truly embody the freedom that so many veterans have lived and died to protect.
August 7, 2015 – Purple Heart Day
George Washington created the Badge for Military Merit, which eventually became the Order of the Purple Heart. This decoration originally given to those who display military merit and now is given to any member of the U.S. armed forces who were killed or wounded in combat.
V-J Day (Victory over Japan Day), August 14th
This day in 1945 is when Japan surrendered to the Allies, ending the last of WWII. V-J day is also celebrated on September 2nd, which is the anniversary of Japan’s formal surrender.
POW/MIA Recognition Day, third Friday of September
#POWMIADay #YouAreNotForgotten #POWMIA #POWMIAFamilies #POWMIARecognitionDay
Whether in a rally or moments of silence, people pause to remember Prisoners of War and those still Missing in Action, along with their families. Military organizations fly the National League of Families’ POW/MIA flag on this day.
Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day, September 27th
This day of remembrance is dedicated to the Mothers (and fathers and families) who lost a son or daughter in the service of Country. American Gold Star Moms, Inc. is an organization providing comfort for these families as only others with similar experiences can do.
National Day of the Deployed, October 26th
#NationalDayoftheDeployed #DayoftheDeployed #SOT #SupportOurTroops #SOV #SupportOurVets #SupportOurVeterans
Honors the sacrifice the deployed men and women of our country have made/are making.
Military Family Appreciation Month, November
#MilitaryFamily #MilitaryFamilyAppreciationMonth #MilitaryFamilyMonth
An entire month to celebrate the families of members of our Armed Forces.
Veterans Day, November 11 (usually) (Federal)
On this day in 1918–on the eleventh day, in the eleventh hour of the eleventh month–Allied forces signed an armistice (cease-fire) with Germany, ending World War I. People now honor all veterans on this day, which is usually celebrated with parades and/or community events.
Pearl Harbor Day, December 7th
The anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 is remembered in President Franklin Roosevelt’s epic words as “a date which will live in infamy.” U.S. flags are flown at half-mast to honor those who died in the attack.
National Wreaths Across America, December 12th
The organization Wreaths Across America honors the fallen from our Armed Forces in wreath-laying ceremonies in military cemeteries across the nation. Find out more or join their efforts here.
Let us know if there’s a military holiday or special day of honor you’d like to add to the list!