National Military Appreciation Month gives people an opportunity to recognize U.S. military members and veterans for defending the security and interests of our country.
In 1999, Congress designated May as National Military Appreciation Month. The Senate resolution of the bill sponsored by Sen. John McCain, a Navy veteran and POW who died in 2018, calls on Americans to “recognize and honor the dedication and commitment of the members of the United States Armed Forces and to observe the month with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
It’s a chance to thank Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine, Space Force, and National Guard members and veterans as well as military spouses and families. The monthlong celebration draws to a close with Memorial Day, which honors those who died in military service.
A number of days designated for honoring military members, veterans, and their families happen in May. They include:
- VE Day – May 8, annually:
VE Day recognizes the Allied forces’ victory in Europe during World War II. It’s the day German forces unconditionally surrendered.
- Military Spouse Appreciation Day – May 6, 2022:
According to the Department of Defense, 92% of military spouses are female. The day to commemorate their sacrifice and commitment occurs each year on the Friday before Mother’s Day.
- Children of Fallen Patriots Day – May 13, annually:
Although it isn’t nationally recognized, governors from 27 states have declared Children of Fallen Patriots Day an official day of remembrance. It honors the sacrifices and struggles of children who have lost parents in armed conflict.
- Armed Forces Day – May 21, 2022:
On Armed Forces Day, Americans pay tribute to all U.S. military members and veterans. The day is celebrated annually on the third Saturday in May.
- Memorial Day – May 30, 2022:
Memorial Day honors those who died in military service. It’s observed on the last Monday in May.
People often confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Both honor the U.S. military, but they have different origins and purposes.
Many Americans consider Memorial Day the unofficial kick-off to summer. We often think of parades, barbecues, and retailers hosting sales events. But the last Monday in May is much more than the close of a three-day weekend.
Memorial Day started after the Civil War when it was called Decoration Day. Originally observed on May 30, it was a time for people to adorn the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers, flags, and other mementos.
In 1971, Congress designated the last Monday in May as Memorial Day. Today, Memorial Day solemnly honors all who died in military service.
Veterans Day (November 11) pays tribute to all who have served in the U.S. military. The holiday is often marked by military veterans handing out paper poppies in exchange for donations to causes that support veterans and their families.
Originally called Armistice Day, Veterans Day is celebrated annually on November 11, marking the day World War II ended in 1918. Congress recognized it as a federal holiday in 1938.
In 1954, the holiday was officially renamed Veterans Day and designated as a time to honor veterans of all U.S. wars. The day is still celebrated as Armistice Day in several European countries.
Leading into Memorial day, near the end of National Military Appreciation Month, many businesses honor active military members and veterans.
ID.me members can use their account as proof of military affiliation to access money-saving discounts from our partners.
*Disclaimer: Offer details subject to change or cancellation – see partner stores for any offer changes, updates, and restrictions. Military offer may apply to any combination of Active-duty Military Members, Veterans, Military Spouses, Military Families and Retirees and varies by partner offer.