Members of the U.S. military are committed to safeguarding the nation's interests and defending its people, available around the clock, every day of the year, from virtually every corner of the world. May is designated as Military Appreciation Month, offering the perfect moment to acknowledge and express gratitude to these committed service members and their families for their daily efforts and sacrifices.

What is National Military Appreciation Month?

Military Appreciation Month was introduced in 1999 by decorated Navy Captain and former Arizona Sen. John McCain. Shortly after its introduction, resolutions urging Americans to honor and remember U.S. service members during National Military Appreciation Month were passed by the Senate and House of Representatives. Since then, the month of May has been a time for Americans to commemorate and pay tribute to the service members who have sacrificed so much in the name of freedom.

What is celebrated during Military Appreciation Month?

While Memorial Day is the only federally observed holiday in May, the month consists of several other days set aside to honor those who serve and those who make sacrifices so that a loved one may serve.

Loyalty Day - May 1

Loyalty Day kicks off Military Appreciation Month on May 1. First celebrated in 1922 as "Americanization Day" and later renamed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as "Loyalty Day," Congress defines this day as "a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom."

Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) – May 8

Victory in Europe Day is a day to celebrate the end of World War II in Europe when the Germans unconditionally surrendered to the Allies on May 8, 1945. The day offers Americans an opportunity to reflect on one of the U.S. military's greatest achievements and their part in winning the war against the Axis powers.

Military Spouse Appreciation Day – Friday before Mother's Day

Military Spouse Appreciation Day allows Americans a chance to reflect on the sacrifices military spouses make in order to keep things running smoothly at home while their spouse is deployed, and to honor the support families give to service members. During President Joe Biden's 2022 proclamation, he said of military spouses, "On Military Spouse Appreciation Day and every day, we are grateful for the extraordinary service and sacrifice of America's military spouses.  May we continue to lift their voices, invest in their talents and respond to their unique needs in ways that ease their challenges and enable them to reach their goals and aspirations."

Armed Forces Day – Third Saturday in May

Armed Forces Day is a day set aside during Military Appreciation Month to honor active-duty military members. According to the Department of Defense, the U.S. currently has 1.29 million active-duty members. Whether serving in the U.S. or deployed out-of-country, this day gives Americans time to reflect on the sacrifices service members are currently making to keep the country safe.

Memorial Day – Last Monday in May

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the U.S. While it can be a somber day full of grieving, it also allows Americans time to remember and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country. As President Harry Truman said, "Our debt to the heroic men and valiant women in the service of our country can never be repaid. They have earned our undying gratitude. America will never forget their sacrifices." A common observance on this day is to place American flags on the graves of fallen soldiers.

Ways to support the military during Military Appreciation Month and beyond

  • Attend events honoring the military. Many cities host Memorial Day Parades with parade floats and marching bands celebrating service members.
  • Find a military organization or nonprofit to support. Consider donating or volunteering with an organization that supports military members and their families.
  • Send a care package to an active-duty service member. Things like sunblock, cookies, card games and notes of support can uplift service members and remind them people back home are supporting them.
  • Brush up on your history. Take time to read up on the many fascinating and heroic military stories that have shaped American history. Visit a military museum to get a close-up experience of what military service members have gone through and fought for. Being knowledgeable about the past can help you appreciate the present.

Taking a moment to express gratitude

Even though there will never be enough words to adequately convey our gratitude and admiration for our service members, we can set aside some time to pay tribute to the sacrifices they have made and continue to make on our behalf. During Military Appreciation Month, we have the ideal chance to express our gratitude to our service members and let them know how much we value what they do.