Parade of Thanks to Our Military

Armed Forces Day

by Karen Fliedner, OCF Communications Assoc. Ed.

> See the DVIDs video

Police cars and fire trucks with flashing lights, marching bands trumpeting patriotic music, and clown cars. Who doesn't love a parade--especially one that honors those who serve in our nation's Armed Forces?

Many communities and military installations from sea to shining sea will be doing just that on May 21, along with other fun and varied festivities, in celebration of Armed Forces Day.  

Observed nationwide on the third Saturday of May, Armed Forces Day is the brainchild of President Harry S. Truman to establish a single national holiday replacing separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard ones.

At its heart, Armed Forces Day is a chance for civilians to rub shoulders with and give thanks to our military men and women who selflessly defend our nation's many freedoms. 

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Lewis-Main in Puget Sound, WA, is one such military installation opening its gates to the public for their annual observance of the holiday. Col Larry and Bobbie Simpson, USAF (Ret.), who serve Officers' Christian Fellowship as directors of Family Outreach and Puget Sound, plan on attending.

"People at JBLM have come out of a year of high deployment," said Col Simpson, whose ministry work to the military includes Spiritually Smart Family conferences. "It's a good year to reflect on what they've done and for them to receive accolades for their accomplishments."

With live music and entertainment, and food and vendor booths offering tantalizing wares, JBLM guests will be surrounded by a plethora of activities including carnival rides and historical military reenactments.

For the inquisitive are close-up opportunities to check out the post's signature Stryker Combat vehicles, sit in an UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter--or have a too-close-for-comfort encounter with the slithering reptile accompanying a strolling zoologist.

According to [First} Corps' Command SGM Frank A. Grippe, USA, it gives JBLM a chance to join together with the local community and "celebrate in a big way."

"I think it gives [the public] a perspective that it's not us and them, the military and the civilian life," said World War I re-enactor Mark Harris.

"We're all Americans.... It's our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, friends, and relatives who are serving."

For Christians, Armed Forces Day serves as yet another reminder of the vast importance of buffering our military men and women in daily prayer, thanking God for them, who at any given moment may be called to defend our precious freedoms-and may cost them their lives.

And it's a day to thank God for Christians in the military who are dedicated to living out lives of professional excellence, carrying with them the keys of ultimate freedom, the good news of Jesus Christ.

SGM Frank A. Grippe, USA, and Mark Harris quotes courtesy Defense Video & Imagery Distributing System (DVIDS) and SGT Warren Wright, USA, Joint Base Lewis-McChord Host Armed Forces Day Open House, 2010