NORWICH — Armed Forces Day is celebrated every year on the third Saturday in May and is a way to pay tribute to the men and women of the Armed Forces. This year the celebration date is May 20th.
According to Veteran.com, the day honors all people currently serving in the U.S. armed forces. This includes the men and women who have served or are serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard, including the National Guard and Reserve components.
Many local residents serve or have served our country.
The Norwich City Police Department Officers not only serve our community but have served the military and include: ACP Scott A. Burlison, US Army; Sergeant Dan Church, US Army and US Marines; PO Brandon Clarke, US Marines; PO Sam Stratton, US Army; PO Tyler Dexheimer, US Marines; and PO Scott Laughlin, US Marines.
US Army Major General (retired) and New Berlin Mayor Peter Lennon said, “No matter their branch of service, those who wear the cloth of our Nation at home and around the globe represent our better selves. Our current service-members continue to be ordinary Americans doing extraordinary, sometimes heroic things of behalf of their teammates, their mission, and the American ideal.”
Today, only one-percent of our population provides the other 99 percent of America the security necessary to become better both as individuals and as a Nation. I’m proud to honor them and call them my teammates,” said Lennon.
Air Force Technical Sergeant Lori Olsen-Nichols is currently serving at the Eastern Air Defense in Rome, New York, and has served for 26 years. In addition, she is the commander for the American Legion and recently orchestrated a community-involved farmers market in Pharsalia, where she also resides.
Nichols said, “I hold a lot of events in my ‘Miles of Love’ barn venue in memory of my late husband Miles Nichols. We’ve had business after hours for United Way, birthday parties, bridal showers, and recently an adult prom to raise funds for Oxford Art department.
“A statue in my lawn is in remembrance of all of those who have served so graciously in the past and present and I just put up new flags for each one of the forces. That’s where our heart is; where our love is; to support this country in any way we can,” she added.
“My father, sister, nephews, and son have served and are serving in the military and soon my daughter is planning to serve too. On Armed Forces Day we’ll celebrate with a barbecue and we’re preparing for the Memorial Day parade in McDonough. The parade will be the longest (in length) and shortest parade anyone will ever experience,” Nichols said.
Navy Operations Specialist Chief Petty Officer (retired) George Julius Buckland II entered boot camp in 1988 and completed his missions in 2008 with 20 years of service. He served onboard USS Richard E Byrd (DDG-23), USS Bainbridge (CGN-25), USS Robert G Bradley (FFG-49), USS The Sullivans (DDG-68), and USS Vicksburg (CG-69).
Buckland said, “I was deployed to support Operations: Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Global War on Terrorism, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom. To me, Armed Forced Day is a great day to show the support to all those that are currently serving.”
“When I first started serving this great county in the US Navy, the country recognized the ones that died for our country (Memorial Day) and those that had served (Veterans Day) but not the ones that are currently serving and spending time away from family, friends, spouses, and their children. I believe it is for this reason Armed Forces Day should be celebrated with the same amount of joy and activity as Veterans Day,” he added.
Although, originally, there were single day celebrations for the Army, Navy and Air Force; this format changed on Aug. 21, 1949, when Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day. Stemming from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense, the annual celebration now commemorates all branches of the military during one solitary day.
President Truman led the effort to establish a holiday in order for citizens to unite and honor our military heroes for their patriotic service in support of the United States of America.
The first official Armed Forces Day took place on May 20, 1950, and was themed “Teamed for Defense.” In honor of the special day, B-36 Bombers flew over state capitals, a march was led by more than 10,000 veterans and troops in Washington, D.C., and over 33,000 people participated in a New York City parade.
In addition, the first Armed Forces Day also played an essential part in educating society and expanding public knowledge of the military and the role they play in the community. Therefore, it wasn’t only a means to honor those who serve or who have served in the military, but also a way to showcase its top of the line equipment and abilities used to protect those in our country.
Armed Forces Day is not a federal holiday, many military installations are available for public viewing for those wishing to take part in the celebration or to learn more about our country’s military.