This year, celebrations and festivities surrounding National Military Appreciation Month will look different compared to years past. Normally a fun-filled month, May brings American communities together to find joy in the company of family and friends while reflecting on the contributions and sacrifices of military men, women, and their families throughout our country’s history.
As we all adjust to social distancing guidelines to protect our loved ones from Covid-19, it's a poignant time to take a moment to review the reasons May was chosen to appreciate and remember military service.
The late Senator, John McCain, brought to Congress formal legislation in 1999 which designated May as National Military Appreciation Month. The intention was to gather significant, yet individual events, throughout the month, under one declaration of gratitude and honor.
May 1 - Loyalty Day
Congress declared in 1958, “Loyalty Day is a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom.” Traditionally, ceremonies are held in public schools and government buildings and flags are displayed throughout the country.
May 8 - VE, or Victory Day in Europe
This day celebrates the end of WWII on the European front in 1945. Because this year marks the 75th anniversary, significant celebrations and events were planned across the globe. Most will be conducted virtually or postponed.
May 8 - Military Spouse Appreciation Day
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan recognized the sacrifices and endless support given by military spouses and proclaimed May 8 as Military Spouse Day. Later, Congress included the event into National Military Appreciation Month.
May 16 - Armed Forces Day
Current and former living service members of all military branches are celebrated for their dedication and patriotism. In years past, public and private organizations often expand this observation into a week-long event with upbeat ceremonies and celebrations.
May 25 - Memorial Day
This is the solemn holiday Americans reserve to remember veterans who have died during military service. Parades, family gatherings, and graveside memorials were normal occurrences. This year, the public is asked to pause at 3:00 PM local time for a moment of reflection.
More military-related observances in May:
Previously, we have all taken time to commemorate these events with public events, backyard barbeques, and out of town vacations. Today, we are all challenged to find meaningful and heartening ways to celebrate safely.
Take a look at some of the creative experiences that celebrate National Military Appreciation Month happening online, or near you.
The cemetery is closed, but offers multiple ways to pay respect to fallen service members while learning the history of the sacred place through virtual tours.
Enter a picture of your pet to win Exchange gift cards.
Choose from 11 national parks including the Grand Canyon to tour virtually with a Zoom link. Times vary according to park location.
The new app puts a Story Station in every military home, connecting families across the globe. Register for the event and receive a free book.
The companies are partnering to connect military families through digital photography. They’re giving away three cloud based Nixplay Smart Photo Frames.
As part of military spouse appreciation events, Blue Star Families and Starbucks are teaming up to send gift cards to deserving milspouses.
Military Spouse magazine is sponsoring an event that treats milspouse moms to a collection of custom prizes. At the same time, the giveaway showcases military spouse owned companies.
The company is offering a free sandwich for servicemembers of each branch. Curbside pickup or take out.