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Looking back at Armed Forces Day

May 21, 2014

This article was published in the Duncan Banner May 21, 2014.

Four days ago on May 17th, we as a nation celebrated Armed Forces Day – instituted in 1949 by President Harry Truman and first celebrated Saturday, May 20 1950. This celebration was created to bring the separate military forces together to transform President Truman’s reorganized War Department into the Department of Defense. Prior to that reorganization, each military branch held separate celebrations.

As I quote memorable passages from speeches made over the years by some of our country’s leaders, their admonitions are still pertinent today.

Armed Forces Day, Saturday May 20, 1950, marks 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.” (Former Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, 1949-50)

The heritage of freedom must be guarded as carefully in peace as it was in war. Faith, not suspicion must be the key to our relationships. Sacrifice, not selfishness must be the eternal price of liberty. Vigilance, not appeasement, is the byword of living freedoms. Our Armed Forces in 1950 – protecting the peace, building for security with freedom – are Teamed for Defense.” (Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Omar N. Bradley, 1950)

Real security lies in the prevention of war -and today that hope can come only through adequate preparedness.” (Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Omar N. Bradley, 1951)

Armed Forces Day this year should serve to emphasize the practical application of unification in action, and to remind us of the continued need for unity in our Armed Forces and amount all of our citizens in the interests of security and peace.” (Former Secretary of Defense, Robert A. Lovett, 1952)

“It is fitting and proper that we devote one day each year to paying special tribute to those whose constancy and courage constitute one of the bulwarks guarding the freedom of this nation and the peace of the free world.” (President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953)

Let us, on this day as Americans, honor the American fighting man. For it is he – the Soldier, the Sailor, the Airman, the Marine – who has fought to preserve freedom. It is his valor that has given renewed hope to the free world that by working together in discipline and faith our ideals of freedom will always prevail.” (Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Forrest P. Sherman, 1949-1951)

“Our Armed Forces and our national defense system represent a judicious investment of our nation’s resources in the cause of peace. The return on this investment, in terms of national strength shows the determination of the American people to preserve our way of life and to give hope to all who seek peace with freedom.” (Former Secretary of Defense, Honorable Neil McElroy, 1959)

The public celebration of Armed Forces Day is participated in widely by our United States citizenry is commendable. However, a dark side also pervades. As they honor those now serving, speeches by our elected officials do not match attitudes when they return to their respective legislatures.

Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Retired General Shinseki, has improved the V.A. ten-fold (while Congress has allocated less money per patient) and still expanded services to allow veterans and their dependents to acquire affordable dental insurance.

As Congress continues cutting this organization’s budget – while the workload has more than quadrupled due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – they are paving the road to medical disaster for all veterans!




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