Introduced in 1999 by Sen. John McCain and honored every May, Military Appreciation Month encourages Americans to reflect on the sacrifices made by soldiers, sailors, and all current and former military personnel.
May is an appropriate month for a military remembrance, since the month also includes VE Day, which commemorates the end of World War II in Europe, and culminates in Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday of May to honor veterans who died in service.
During the month of May, Military Appreciation Month pays tribute to the members of the military.
History of Military Appreciation Month
The American military was founded even before the country itself. To fight the British and gain independence for the future United States, the Continental Congress created the army in 1775. After winning the Revolutionary War, the Founding Fathers didn’t intend to have a standing army. They disbanded the Continental Army and called for the “well-armed militias” that have become a flashpoint in today’s debate over the Second Amendment.
Today, the U.S. military is the world’s largest employer, with close to 3.5 million personnel employed in one way or another. The U.S. Department of Defense hires more people than any other organization or corporation in the world. By contrast, Wal-Mart, the largest private company, has 2.2 million employees worldwide.
Military personnel work in a variety of jobs, and many never see combat at all. After their service, they go on to hold important civilian jobs in many fields including information security, IT, commercial airline flight, corporate management, and more.
Military Appreciation Month honors everyone who has served in a branch of the U.S. military and reminds us that we owe many of our freedoms to the sacrifices made by military personnel. The month-long celebration was formally introduced by Senator John McCain in 1999, using a month that marks many important military anniversaries to highlight the contributions of our troops. In addition to keeping the country safe during wartime, the U.S. military also conducts important research that has led to many important and useful civilian technologies that we use every day like GPS, canned food, and jet engines.
Military Appreciation Month timeline
- September 20, 2011
Don't Ask Don't Tell Repealed
President Clinton's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, which barred openly gay or bisexual people from military service, is repealed by a federal appeals court and Congress.
- August 9, 1945
U.S. Drops the Bomb
The United States drops two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 people, ending the war on the Eastern front, and marking the first and only time atomic weapons have been used in war.
- April 19, 1865
The Civil War Ends
Robert E. Lee surrenders to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, ending the bloodiest conflict in American history.
- June 14 1775
Birth of the U.S. Army
The Continental Congress votes to raise ten companies of riflemen, kicking off the American Revolution and effectively creating the U.S. Army.
Military Appreciation Month FAQs
What is Military Family Appreciation Month?
Military Family Appreciation Month is celebrated during the month of November, bringing awareness to the sacrifices and challenges family members make for their uniformed loved ones.
Is there a month for veterans?
Every year, we celebrate National Veterans and Military Families Month in November.
What are the three major military holidays?
Though there are multiple military holidays throughout the year, the three biggest ones are Veterans’ Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day.
Military Appreciation Month Activities
Thank a military member or veteran
Call a military member you know and thank them for their service. Let them know their efforts aren’t going unseen!
Brush up on your military history
The history of the U.S. military is full of fascinating, epic stories that run the gamut from tragedy to triumph. Take some time to read up on the many ways the military affects American society.
Volunteer with a local veterans’ service organization
Many veterans are elderly, on a fixed income, and even homeless. Find a local organization that supports these vulnerable populations and volunteer to serve some food, distribute supplies, or spend time socializing with veterans who need it.
5 Fascinating Facts About The Military
The web started during the Cold War as a way to connect computers in different science labs.
After satellites became more common, a government-funded space-based navigation system from the 1990s became the basis for today's everyday GPS uses.
Two-way radios were invented by Motorola on behalf of the U.S. Army in the 1940s – the radios had to be carried on soldiers’ backs as they walked, giving them their now-ubiquitous name.
The Duct Tape we all know and love was invented to help World War II soldiers quickly repair equipment.
This technology was accidentally invented by a Raytheon engineer from radar technology invented for the military.
Why We Love Military Appreciation Month
It reminds us to thank our veterans
If you know an active duty soldier or veteran, let them know you appreciate their service this month. Send them a small gift or card to thank them for their sacrifice.
We can appreciate democracy
Veterans often engage in conflicts to help preserve the values of democracy. To honor their sacrifices, we can help our communities, serve those less fortunate than us, and exercise our rights to vote and engage with our elected officials.
It reminds us of all the contributions the military makes
The military doesn’t just wage war. In peacetime, military personnel and reservists assist with relief efforts during storms, earthquakes, disease outbreaks, and other natural disasters.
Military Appreciation Month dates