FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Fort Bragg is home to paratroopers, Soldiers and Green Berets. At neighboring Pope Air Force Base, the Airmen there help keep the airborne in the "Home of the Airborne." A few hours away, the Marines at Camp Lejune, N.C., serve with honor, accomplishing the nation's military missions. America's military members work together each day to keep the U.S. safe and free.

Saturday is Armed Forces Day, a day to celebrating the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a day to celebrate servicemembers. On Aug. 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day to replace existing days recognizing the individual services. The celebration helped recognize the unification of the services under the Department of Defense.

In a presidential proclamation Feb. 27, 1950, Truman foresaw the cohesiveness of today's military working together to keep the nation secure and establish peace.

"Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marked the first combined demonstration by America's defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense," said Truman.

The theme of this year's day is "United in Strength," symbolizing the joint efforts of all the armed services working together on humanitarian efforts in countries like Haiti and the continuing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While times have changed throughout the United States' history, the sentiments of its leaders and citizens have remained the same. The words of one of the country's founding fathers still resonates with the mission of today's Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen protecting the freedom fought so hard for during the Revolutionary War.

"My God! How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy! I confess, I had no idea of it myself," said Thomas Jefferson in letter he wrote James Monroe from Paris in 1785.

The 60th anniversary of Armed Forces Day affords Americans the opportunity to celebrate servicemembers who continue to defend the freedoms Jefferson lauded. Saturday is a day to thank those in uniform.

(Editor's note: Information in this article provided by the U.S. Department of Defense at www.defense.gov.)

Page last updated Thu May 13th, 2010 at 15:58