National Military Spouse Appreciation Day, May 7, 2021, is a presidentially approved holiday and is celebrated annually on the Friday before Mother’s Day. On this day we honor the contributions and sacrifices made by military spouses.
Their commitment and support help to keep our country safe. America’s military spouses are the backbone of the families who support our troops during mission, deployment, reintegration and reset. Military spouses are silent heroes who are essential to the strength of the nation, and they serve our country just like their loved ones. If you know one, thank them on behalf on a grateful nation.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan recognized the profound importance of spousal commitment to the readiness and well-being of military members. Congress officially made Military Spouse Appreciation Day part of National Military Appreciation Month in 1999. Subsequently, the Department of Defense standardized the date by declaring the Friday before Mother’s Day every year as “Military Spouse Appreciation Day” to show appreciation for the sacrifices of military spouses.
National Military Appreciation Month is celebrated every May and is a declaration that encourages U.S. citizens to observe the month in a symbol of unity. It honors current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including those who have died in the pursuit of freedom. May is characterized by numerous observances highlighting the contributions of those who have served.
The idea started as a simple idea; to gather America around its military family to honor, remember, recognize and appreciate those who have served and those now serving and to know the history behind it all. May was chosen because it already has many individual days set aside to recognize the U.S. military’s achievements.
In 1999, the late Senator John McCain introduced formal legislation to designate the month of May as National Military Appreciation Month. Both the Senate and House of Representatives adopted resolutions calling for Americans to recognize and honor U.S. Service Members during the month. These resolutions also urged the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe May as the National Military Appreciation Month.
Because most holidays commemorating historical military events have become little more than three-day weekends lacking focus on their original purpose, this month is to remind Americans of the sacrifices and the history we have been privileged to participate in since the nation’s birth. During the month of May, the public and the military are encouraged to support local engagements designed to draw attention and illustrate support, appreciation and thanks to the military family.
The Month of the Military Caregiver is observed in May each year to honor more than five million caregivers in the United States. Paying tribute to the people who care for more than two million veterans is an important part of supporting troops and military families. But for some, it is also about recognizing the work they do that qualifies them as caregivers even if they do not think of themselves that way.
A Rand Corporation report on military caregivers reflects this sentiment. “Those caregivers often toil in relative obscurity, and they are challenging to count or describe.”
They are spouses, parents, children, and relatives of the wounded veteran, but many coworkers, neighbors, and friends also take on responsibilities. They provide care and assistance, promoting faster recovery for their loved ones and thus saving our nation millions of dollars in health care costs. It is an observance that primarily acts to raise awareness of both wounded warriors and the people who care for them.
It is a good thing to pay respect to those who provide much needed care for wounded warriors, veterans with service-connected and non-service-connected disabilities. And that is one reason why there are multiple observances each year for those who offer their time and effort to provide care.
If you want to participate in the care of a veteran, no matter what level of training, available time, and awareness of the level of need in your community, it’s a very good idea to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs via the nearest field office or medical center near you to learn what volunteer opportunities may be available.
May 1st is Silver Star Service Banner Day, a time to recognize those who have been awarded The Silver Star Medal and remember the sacrifices of our wounded and ill veterans. The Silver Star is described as the third-highest military decoration for valor in combat.
Silver Star Service Banner Day is a time of recognition related to the Silver Star medal, but not exclusively dedicated to it. Silver Star Service Banner Day pays respect to those who have received the Silver Star but is more broadly associated with service members who have been affected by combat.
According to Defense Department records, the Silver Star is an award created as the successor of something known as the Citation Star, which was created in 1818. The first authorization for the official use of the Silver Star was in 1942. The Silver Star medal is awarded for specific actions in combat. Silver Star Service Banner Day is a recognition of those who have been wounded, sickened, or killed in combat in general. The tradition of the Silver Star service banner is about as old as the Silver Star itself; according to several sources, the display of Blue, Gold, and Silver Star banners began in 1818.
A Congressional resolution was passed in May of 2010, formalizing Silver Star Service Banner Day. It is listed as an “Official Day to honor wounded, ill, and injured veterans.” Private agencies and veterans service organizations such as The Silver Star Families of America formed to recognize, and help wounded and ill veterans and currently serving military members
National Former Prisoner of War Recognition Day on April 9th honors the courageous men and women who endured brutal treatment at the hands of their captors. As a result, they also suffered separation from family and displayed incredible endurance and faith during their captivity.
On this day in 1942, the largest number of U.S. Forces were captured by Japanese troops in the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines. After battling through extreme conditions and prolonged battles, the captured troops were forced to march 65 miles to the prison camp. Without medical attention, food or water thousands died. The mistreatment continued for those who survived the brutal journey. In the compounds, deep in the unfamiliar jungle, the hardships, brutality, and suffering lasted more than two years for those who could survive.
Since the Revolutionary War, over half a million service members have been captured. This number does not reflect those lost or never recovered. However, each POW endures conditions much like the ones described above. These heroes deserve a day of recognition.
In 1984, a movement led by former POWs began seeking a day recognizing for former Prisoners of War on April 9th each year. In 1988, Congress approved legislation setting April 9th to commemorate the date the tragic number of captives were taken prisoner on Bataan. President Ronald Reagan proclaimed National Former Prisoners of War Recognition Day on April 1, 1988, through Presidential Proclamation 5788. He set the observance for April 9, 1988. Since then, through legislation and Presidential Proclamations, the observance carries on. These men and women deserve our respect and profound gratitude.
The terms Gold Star family, Gold Star Spouses, and Gold Star Wives traditionally refer to the surviving loved ones of military members killed in the line of duty in combat. Gold Star Spouses Day was created to honor these loved ones.
This recognition of the sacrifices made by military spouses is a memorial for the fallen, a day of remembrance for the survivors, and an appreciation for those who are sometimes in danger of being overlooked for their support and service to the country.
The Gold Star is a tradition that began during World War One; service flags were flown by military families during this time, with blue stars for every family member serving in uniform. If one died, the blue star was replaced by a gold star. This allowed members of the community to know the price that the family had paid in the cause of freedom.
The tradition of Gold Star Spouses Day began in the early part of the 20th century as Gold Star Mother’s Day, observed on the last Sunday of September beginning in 1936. An organization known as Gold Star Wives began operating before the end of the Second World War, and the Gold Star lapel button tradition was established in the summer of 1947.
All of this set the stage for Gold Star Spouses Day, which began as Gold Star Wives Day-the first of which occurred in December 2010. Two years later a Senate resolution codified Gold Star Wives Day, observed on April 5 each year. Today the event is known as Gold Star Spouses Day, though many still use “Gold Star Wives Day” interchangeably with Gold Star Spouses Day.
If you know any surviving spouse of any person of the United States military who died while a member of the armed forces of our country, or who died after such service because of an injury or disability incurred during such service, please extend your heartfelt gratitude.