Military holidays are special days during which we can celebrate our nation’s armed forces. Some of them fall on specific dates to remember events in U.S. history. Others are held to honor groups within the military community — such as Veterans — and remind us how we got our freedom in the first place.
Mark your calendars so you can celebrate these holidays with the rest of the military community. Here’s a full breakdown of all the military holidays and what dates they fall on in 2020:
January Military Holidays
Unfortunately, there are no military holidays to celebrate in January!
February Military Holidays
- Four Chaplains Day – Feb. 3: This day commemorates four World War II chaplains who died saving their fellow service members after the SS Dorchester was torpedoed by a German submarine. You can read more about it here.
- USO Birthday – Feb. 4: The USO’s dedication to helping service members stretches all the way back to this day in 1941.
- Presidents’ Day – Third Monday in February: While Presidents’ Day isn’t strictly military, it does celebrate the birthday of President George Washington, who served as a general in the Continental Army. Find out which presidents served in the military here.
- Coast Guard Reserve Birthday – Feb. 19: The Coast Guard Reserve was established on this day in 1941.
March Military Holidays
- Navy Reserve Birthday – March 3: The Navy Reserve’s history goes back over a hundred years, to this day in 1915.
- Hug a GI Day – March 4: The term GI gained popularity in World War II, meaning “Government Issue,” but referring to the generic enlisted soldier. Even though it’s usually directed to Army soldiers, use this day to give a hug (when wanted) to any service member of the armed forces.
- Seabee Birthday – March 5: Seabees are any sailors who serve in a Naval Construction Force or Battalion; their nickname comes from the initials “C.B.” — Construction Battalion. This day goes out to all the Seabees!
- K9 Veterans Day – March 13: Not all our Veterans stand on two legs. March 13 celebrates the dogs who have served with our soldiers to keep the U.S. safe. You can read more about K9 Veterans here.
- American Legion Birthday – March 15: The American Legion is an organization of U.S. war Veterans with local posts all over the nation. It may come as a surprise that it was founded over a hundred years ago — on March 15, 1919.
- Medal of Honor Day – March 25: This day celebrates Medal of Honor recipients and their incredible service and sacrifice that earned them such high regard.
- National Vietnam War Veterans Day – March 29: Starting in 2012, and officially becoming “National Vietnam War Veterans Day” in 2017, this day honors the brave Veterans of the Vietnam War.
April Military Holidays
- Month of the Military Child – Whole Month: The month of April is dedicated to our nation’s military children, whose childhoods are often spent in multiple places and whose parents may be absent or busy in their service to the armed forces. These children are resilient and special.
- Gold Star Spouses Day – April 5: This day is meant for the spouses of deceased service members, to remind them that they are not alone in their grief. To read about the history of Gold Star Spouses Day, click here.
- National Former POW Recognition Day – April 9: POWs, or Prisoners of War, have endured unimaginable hardship in their service. This holiday recognizes their sacrifice.
- Air Force Reserve Birthday – April 14: The Air Force Reserve was founded on this day in 1948.
May Military Holidays
- Month of the Military Caregiver – Whole Month: Military caregivers work tirelessly to increase the quality of life for disabled and senior Veterans. We salute them during the month of May.
- National Military Appreciation Month – Whole Month: May is also the month to send your love and appreciation to the armed forces as a whole. Donate to your favorite military nonprofit, volunteer, thank a service member or Veteran, or send a letter to a deployed soldier in May.
- Public Service Recognition Week – First Week: Those who serve the public — such as military personnel, cops, firefighters, postmen, teachers, and more — are recognized during this week. Take them out to dinner to celebrate their selfless service!
- Silver Star Service Banner Day – May 1: The Silver Star is the third-highest honor to receive as a service member. It is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the U.S. Remember Silver Star recipients on this day.
- Loyalty Day – May 1: Loyalty Day could also be called Patriot Day; and while it’s not strictly a military holiday, no one has more loyalty than a U.S. soldier.
- VE Day (Victory in Europe Day) – May 8: This day signifies the end of World War II in Europe, officially recognized on May 8, 1945.
- Military Spouse Appreciation Day – Friday Before Mother’s Day: Military spouses sacrifice much of their lives in order to support their service members. In light of this, Military Spouse Appreciation Day is a day just for them: to honor their commitment and their love.
- Children of Fallen Patriots Day – May 13: This day recognizes all the children of parents who have fallen in service to the U.S. armed forces.
- Armed Forces Day – Third Saturday: Armed Forces Day is the Veterans Day equivalent for active duty service members. Thank a soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, or Coastie today!
- Memorial Day – Last Monday: As you celebrate this three-day weekend, remember the reason why: Memorial Day is dedicated to all the men and women who have died for your freedoms as an American.
June Military Holidays
- D-Day – June 6: D-Day commemorates the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944. The land the Allies were able to capture in the following days and months proved instrumental to victory in World War II.
- Women Veterans Day – June 12: Use this day to celebrate the female Veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
- Army Birthday – June 14: The United States Army was founded on this day in 1775.
- Flag Day – June 14: This day celebrates the formal adoption of the American flag by the Second Continental Congress in 1777.
- Coast Guard Auxiliary Birthday – June 23: The Coast Guard Auxiliary — a volunteer component of the Coast Guard — was established on this day in 1939.
- PTSD Awareness Day – June 27: PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, afflicts between 11 to 20% of Veterans. Active service members you know may be struggling with it as well. Learn the signs and make sure to support any PTSD-diagnosed service members in your life.
July Military Holidays
- Independence Day – July 4: This day is important to most Americans, but it’s especially dear to our service members, who fought for our freedoms firsthand.
- National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day – July 27: Known as “The Forgotten War,” Korean War Veterans don’t get the recognition they deserve. Use this day to celebrate a Korean War Vet you know, or visit a gravesite to remember them even after they’re gone.
- Army Chaplain Corps Anniversary – July 29: The Army Chaplain Corps was founded on this day in 1775, when a chaplain was authorized for each regiment of the Army.
August Military Holidays
- Air Force Day – Aug. 1: Although this day is not the founding day of the Air Force, it is still used to celebrate our nation’s military force in the skies.
- Coast Guard Day – Aug. 4: The Coast Guard was established on this day in 1790.
- Purple Heart Day – Aug. 7: Use this day to remember all the Purple Heart recipients, who were wounded in battle against enemies of the U.S.
- National Airborne Day – Aug. 16: This day celebrates the members of the armed forces who got their wings and jump out of planes every day to defend our freedoms.
- Marine Corps Reserve Birthday – Aug. 29: The Marine Corps Reserve was founded on this day in 1916.
September Military Holidays
- V-J Day (Victory Over Japan Day) – Sept. 2: This day, much like VE Day, commemorates the Allies’ victory over Japan in World War II.
- Patriot Day – Sept. 11: Patriot Day, which doubles as 9/11 Remembrance Day, is a day in which to remember the thousands of Americans who died when the U.S. was attacked by terrorists in 2001.
- Constitution Day – Sept. 17: This day recognizes the formal adoption of the U.S. Constitution, as well as foreign-born Americans who have walked the road to become a U.S. citizen.
- Air Force Birthday – Sept. 18: The Air Force was officially founded – formerly known as the Army Air Corps — on this day in 1947.
- Air National Guard Birthday – Sept. 18: Along with the Air Force, the Air National Guard was founded on this day in 1947. Before this, the National Guard was used as an umbrella term for Army National Guard soldiers and had no official air component.
- National POW/MIA Recognition Day – Third Friday: This day recognizes Prisoners of War and soldiers who have gone Missing In Action. Whether they eventually returned or are still lost to the war, we honor them, and will never forget.
- Gold Star Mother’s Day – Last Sunday: Gold Star Mother’s Day is a day of solidarity for all the mothers of deceased service members. Read more about the history of the day here.
October Military Holidays
- U.S. Navy Birthday – Oct. 13: The Navy was established on this day in 1775.
- Day of the Deployed – Oct. 26: October 26 is a day in which we celebrate our deployed troops. Send them care packages and letters, and support their families in this time of hardship.
- Navy Day – Oct. 27: While Navy Day doesn’t celebrate the Navy’s birthday, it is still celebrated in recognition of President Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday; who was an Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
November Military Holidays
- National Military Family Month – Whole Month: This month celebrates all military families and their enduring service and sacrifice.
- Warrior Care Month – Whole Month: Warrior Care Month is dedicated to our nation’s wounded warriors and their strength and resilience to keep fighting and achieving despite their setbacks.
- Marine Corps Birthday – Nov. 10: The Marine Corps was established on this day in 1775/
- Veterans Day – Nov. 11: Veterans Day is a nationwide observance that honors all Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Make sure to thank them on this special day.
- Armistice Day – Nov. 11: While it coincides with Veterans Day, Armistice Day has a different significance: It commemorates the date in 1918 that the Allies of World War I signed an armistice with Germany, formally ending the war.
December Military Holidays
- Civil Air Patrol Birthday – Dec. 1: The Civil Air Patrol works as a civilian volunteer component of the Air Force. It was founded on this day in 1941, and is especially useful in times of war.
- National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day – Dec. 7: On December 7, 1941, Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor in an event that killed 2,403 Americans and brought the nation into World War II. We remember those Americans — most of whom were Navy sailors — on this day.
- U.S. National Guard Birthday – Dec. 13: On this day in 1636, the first American militia regiments were formed in Massachusetts; this was the beginning of our country’s National Guard.
- National Wreaths Across America Day – Dec. 14: National Wreaths Across America is an organization who lays wreaths on Veterans’ graves during the holidays. They never forget our service members, so we’ll never forget them.
How to Celebrate Military Holidays
As you can see, there are a lot of military holidays that represent our country’s unique history and celebrate each branch of the military and their respective duties. These dates are moments well-deserved by our military families; moments where their hard work and sacrifice can be recognized by a grateful nation.
If you’re a civilian, you can celebrate military holidays by thanking a service member, spouse, military child or Veteran for their service, or posting about it on social media to raise awareness. Invite your family and friends to celebrate these days with you and make the military community feel appreciated.
If you’re a service member, spouse, military child or Veteran, spend this time with those closest to you. As a spouse or child, be sure to tell your service member how much you love them. And if you are currently serving or have served in the armed forces, take these days to celebrate you. You may not feel like you’re deserving of thanks, but you have an entire nation behind you who sees your sacrifice. And we thank you.