The Storied History Behind NMAM

Seeking a better way to recognize and honor American military families, Senator John McCain and Representative Duncan Hunter teamed up in 1999 to champion a new piece of legislation in the 106th Congress. With the assistance of more than 50 veteran organizations, they proposed the federal government designate the month of May as National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM). The resolution passed both the House and Senate in overwhelming fashion. A revised version with more specific details for its observation was introduced to the 108th Congress by Representative Tom Davis in 2004. Again, it passed with flying colors and established NMAM as we know it today.

To kick it off each year, the president makes a statement expressing their appreciation for the men and women of the Armed Forces – past and present – who’ve sacrificed everything to keep us safe and preserve the freedoms we so often take for granted. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice, and NMAM is the perfect time to honor their legacies and bring the American public together to rally around our troops.

Proponents of the resolution picked May because it already encompassed six other established days of observance commemorating our country’s military achievements throughout history. Each is a different opportunity to thank and honor our military veterans and their families.

Loyalty Day
Date: Monday, May 1, 2017

Established: 1921
About: Loyalty Day kicks off NMAM each year. Originally established in 1921 as Americanization Day, it aims to reaffirm our loyalty to the country and works to recognize the heritage of American freedom. It became a legal holiday in 1958 and has been recognized with a presidential proclamation every year since. No one shows more loyalty to America than its service members, who put their lives on the line every day to protect us.

Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW)
Date: Sunday, May 7, 2017 – Saturday, May 13, 2017

Established: 1985
About: PSRW is celebrated the first full week in May, which starts on the 7th this year. It’s an opportunity to honor all federal, state, county, and local government employees, with a secondary goal to educate citizens about all the ways the government serves the American people.

Victory in Europe Day
Date: Monday, May 8, 2017

Established: 1945
About: Victory in Europe Day commemorates the formal acceptance of Germany’s unconditional surrender in World War II on May 8, 1945. The term’s use dates back to September 1944 in anticipation of what many Americans considered an imminent victory. Did you know it was also President Harry Truman’s 61st birthday?

Military Spouse Appreciation Day
Date: Friday, May 12, 2017

Established: 1984
About: Military Spouse Appreciation Day was established in 1984 to honor military spouses for their continual courage and all the sacrifices they make in support of their loved ones in the Armed Forces. Their courage and dedication are a vital part of operational readiness. It’s typically observed on the Friday before Mother’s Day.

Armed Forces Day
Date: Saturday, May 20, 2017

Established: 1950
About: The third Saturday in May commemorates Armed Forces Day, which typically falls near the end of Armed Forces Week. First established in 1950, it’s a time to honor Americans serving in all five branches of the U.S. military. It was original intended to replace separate holidays for each branch, but they’re still observed to this day. The longest-running parade is held in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Memorial Day
Date: Monday, May 29, 2017
Established: 1868

About: Observed on the last Monday of May, the history of Memorial Day dates all the way back to 1868 when it was known as Decoration Day. It started with a group of Civil War veterans in Decatur, Illinois, who would take time once a year to decorate the graves of fallen Union service members with flowers. Many people maintain this tradition today at national cemeteries around the country.

From Loyalty Day to Memorial Day, the month of May offers plenty of opportunities to show your appreciation for the men and women of the Armed Forces, their spouses, and their extended network of friends and family that support them. We hope you’ll take some time to thank the veterans in your life and reflect on the sacrifices they’ve made not only in your lifetime, but throughout American history.

This story is presented by Pioneer Services, the military division of MidCountry Bank, which has provided award-winning financial education to the men and women of the Armed Forces for over 30 years.

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