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May Offers Many Ways to Thank Military Members, Families
by U.S. Navy Troy Miller, Norfolk Naval Shipyard
May 15, 2022

The month of May has more military-related observances than any other month, one reason why May is recognized as Military Appreciation Month. May consists of Loyalty Day, VE Day, Armed Forces Day, Military Spouses Day and Memorial Day.

Norfolk Naval Shipyard Command Master Chief Brent Blalock stated that many times people tend to confuse Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day. “Armed Forces Day recognizes all that currently serve and all who have served, both active and former, in the reserves, National Guard or on active duty, including the Coast Guard. It is celebrated the 3rd Saturday in May. Veterans Day, celebrated on November 11th, specifically honors all former members of the U.S. military. Memorial Day, celebrated at the end of May, honors all those who have died in military service.”

Norfolk Naval Shipyard Veteran Employee Readiness Group founding member Jonathan Echols places flags on the graves of fallen service members during the annual flag placement ceremony at the Captain Ted Conaway Memorial Naval Cemetery in Naval Medical Center Portsmouth on May 27, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Shelby West, Norfolk Naval Shipyard)
Norfolk Naval Shipyard Veteran Employee Readiness Group founding member Jonathan Echols places flags on the graves of fallen service members during the annual flag placement ceremony at the Captain Ted Conaway Memorial Naval Cemetery in Naval Medical Center Portsmouth on May 27, 2021. (U.S. Navy photo by Shelby West, Norfolk Naval Shipyard)

 Military Appreciation Month starts with Loyalty Day celebrated every May 1st. Officially designated by Congress as “a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and the recognition of the heritage of American Freedom,” Loyalty Day has been marked by every U.S. president since 1958 with an official proclamation. “On Loyalty Day, we celebrate our allegiance to the project of this great Nation and the democratic ideals woven into the fabric of our Constitution,” stated President of the United States Joe Biden in A Proclamation on Loyalty Day, 2021.

“I might be speculating by this statement, but I think many new employees are driven by job security, as well as good salary and benefits, but do not necessarily realize the impact and importance their job plays on supporting the Navy’s mission of forward presence and deterrence,” said Human Resources Specialist Paulo Vasquez. “When they raise their hand and recite the Oath of Office, new employees realize that, although they are not wearing a military uniform, they are pledging loyalty and allegiance to support the U.S. Constitution just as all uniformed service members do.”

Beginning 77 years ago on May 8th, Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) is the day we celebrate the end of World War II on the European front. “I’m sure that we are aware of the millions of people imprisoned, tortured and killed because of their ancestry, race or religion,” said Learning Organization 101 Program Manager (Code 100PI.3) Jonathan Echols. “It is important to remember so that the world never lets anything like this happen again.”

Military Spouses Day, on the Friday before Mother’s Day each year is a time set aside to pay honors to military spouses. “Military spouses face the inherent unpredictable schedules and frequent last-minute changes of military life alongside their service member,” said NNSY’s Command Ombudsman Leah Sanders. “The military would not be able to maintain its operational readiness without the spouse who, through incredible displays of flexibility, adaptability, and community cohesion, take on the full responsibilities of maintaining the quality of life at home while the service member is away. The military spouse adapts as the service member leaves and as they return, providing an invaluable sense of stability and support.”

Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May. It is a time to recognize and show our appreciation to those who are currently serving in the U.S. military. Armed Forces Day was established on August 31, 1949 by then-Secretary of Defense, Louis Johnson, to replace the separate Army, Navy, and Air Force Days.

“I didn’t join the Navy for the glory or to be in the spotlight,” said Military Support (Code 100B) Culinary Specialist Third Class DaShee Kilpatrick. “However, it is nice knowing that there is a time set aside to honor those who are currently serving our country during such uncertain times.”

Originally, Memorial Day, formerly called Decoration Day, was celebrated on May 30th to honor those who had fallen during service. In 1971, it was declared a national holiday which would be observed on the last Monday of May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees.

“NNSY knows the importance to pay honor to those soldiers, Sailors, Marines, airmen, coast guardsmen and guardians who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation and truly represent the saying ‘Freedom isn’t free,’” said Veterans Employee Resource Group (VET ERG) President Joshua Wannemacher. “This is why the VET-ERG is hosting its annual Memorial Day Observance and Fall-in for Colors evening on Wednesday, May 25th, falling in at 7:45 a.m. at the flag pole in front of Building 1500.”

Traditionally, VET-ERG members have had the opportunity to volunteer in two additional annual Memorial Day events. Currently, coordination efforts are being made to align with the NSA Hampton Roads to participate in the annual flag placement at the Captain Ted Conaway Memorial Naval Cemetery in NMCP and participation in the City of Portsmouth’s 138th Annual Memorial Day Parade. More information will follow as it becomes available.

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