Tomorrow – May 20, 2017 – is the 67th annual National Armed Forces Day; a day designed to honor the past and present members of all branches of the armed forces in the United States military – Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force.
Harry S. Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, worked to establish a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their courageous, steadfast and patriotic service in support of our country.
Truman’s Secretary of Defense, Louis Johnson, subsequently announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day on August, 31st, 1949, and the first such celebration was held a year later in 1950. One key purpose of this day’s creation, according the United States Department of Defense, was to “replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days” with one holiday that combined all.
By gathering all branches of the United States military under one umbrella, unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense was achieved once and for all, marking our national progress toward stronger defense.
Though Armed Forces Day was recognized and celebrated in some parts of the United States over the next few decades, in 1962, President John F. Kennedy made Armed Forces Day an official national holiday.
Why Members of the Armed Forces and Veterans Deserve Our Help
It’s a crucial component in any functioning nation to have a military whose members have chosen to serve on behalf of their country. Our brave members of the Armed Forces have done and continue to do just that: Willingly sign up to put their lives on the line in order to protect the safety and the unique comforts and freedoms we hold so dear.
Some members of the Armed Forces serve at home, some see military action and fight in battles around the world, and yet others provide vital services that are necessary to keep our systems of defense well-oiled machines.
During and after service, many members of Armed Forces encounter difficulties — physical and mental – and all make personal sacrifices during their service, often at the expense of their health and families.
Asbestos Diseases and Mesothelioma in the U.S. Military
Still, not every wound is visible – especially not at first. Members of the military are hit hard with invisible disabilities such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), hearing loss and chronic pain, to name a few. Even when the actual battles are over for our military veterans, many still continue to fight personal battles each and every day.
Take asbestos, for example, and asbestos-related mesothelioma – a disease that often takes 10 to 50 years to develop. In the earlier years of the 20th century, and throughout WWII and the Vietnam War, asbestos – then hailed as a “miracle mineral” for its tensile strength, electrical resistance and fireproofing properties – was used widely across all branches of the military, especially in the Navy.
Asbestos was used to insulate our ships and was widespread in shipyards across the country. Up until the mid-1970s, virtually every ship and shipyard built by the Navy was constructed with asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos, the only known cause of the lethal cancer mesothelioma, has taken thousands of lives of soldiers who served in the Armed Forces.
In fact, United States veterans are the ones most impacted by asbestos-related diseases. It has been reported that more than 30 percent of all Americans now dealing with mesothelioma were first exposed to asbestos while serving in the military.
What Your Role Becomes
As the beneficiaries of the brave men and women who serve our country, it’s our job to stand up and participate, to voice our opinions, and to let both veterans and active members of the U.S. military hear how grateful we really are. Honoring a United States Armed Forces member is not a passive action, rather it requires action: a hug, a phone call, a message, a sign of support.
Across some parts of the country this weekend, there will be parades, air shows and ceremonies paying tribute to the men and women in uniform who protected and continue to protect us from foreign threats.
This Saturday, you can start small by celebrating National Armed Forces Day through showing a family member, a loved one, or a friend you know who serves or has served in the military your thanks and offer your support. Veterans give us so much – including our sense of protection, which so often goes unnoticed or taken for granted – they deserve only our very best in return.