Among the many things that living through a global pandemic has taught me, one significant realization has been that it is important to celebrate – pretty much anything. Big occasions, little events, half-birthdays, you name it, why not celebrate it?
So, this year let us add Armed Forces Day to our list of things that we can celebrate, because it’s a day to pay tribute to the men and women who currently serve in all of the United States armed forces. Held every year on the third Saturday of May, this national holiday was created when President Harry S. Truman decided it was a good idea for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service.
Armed Forces Day lands right in the heart of Military Appreciation Month, which begins May 1 with Loyalty Day and includes Public Service Recognition Week (a week to celebrate government employees), VE (Victory in Europe) Day, Military Spouse Appreciation Day, and Armed Forces Week (the third week in May), leading up to Armed Forces Day. The month of military appreciation concludes with Memorial Day, a day to honor our fallen.
And while this Armed Forces Day on Saturday, May 16th, 2020, will not include large public gatherings like parades or air shows, there are numerous ways you and your family can celebrate it. Here are some suggestions to get kids of all ages involved.
- Decorate your porch or driveway. Put out a flag if you have one, have your kids draw images and messages of thanks on a homemade banner, or decorate your driveway or sidewalk with chalk. If you personally know a service member who is on active duty, decorate the front of their house, set up a FaceTime call, mail them a card, or send them some baked goods.
- Put on your own parade. Get out your red, white, and blue clothes, add some ribbons to your bikes or scooters, tape a “Thank You Service Members” sign on your back or wagon and lead the family on a ride or walk around your neighborhood.
- Write and send letters to deployed troops. There are many organizations that will make sure your messages of gratitude or care packages reach our service members who are serving overseas. Some good sites to check out are Operation Gratitude , Soldiers’ Angels, and the USO. For less than $20 your family can send a service member a comfort food package or a board game.
- Participate in a virtual fitness challenge. Set a family goal to work out for at least 16 minutes on 16 days straight starting on May 16th. Choose some activities that service members do during their physical training like sit-ups, push-ups and jogging or running. Make medals or certificates of completion for every family member who sticks with it.
- Create a red, white, and blue meal. Allow every family member to pick a dish and prepare it, with help from older siblings or parents if needed. From blueberry pancakes at breakfast to red apples for a snack, and white wine with dinner for Mom and Dad, there’s easily something for everyone to enjoy throughout the day, as you talk about your gratitude for the brave women and men who risk their lives for our freedoms every day.