Rear Adm. Mike Shatynski, vice commander of Naval Surface Forces, joins the Whittier City Council and American Legion Veterans in celebrating the city’s proclamation naming May 1 Silver Star Banner Day to honor America’s wounded combat Veterans. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brian Brannon/Released)

MAY 1

Silver Star Service Banner Day

Silver Star Service Banner Day is celebrated. It is a time to remember the sacrifices of our service members who have been wounded, sickened or killed in combat. The tradition of a service banner with blue star covered in threads of silver began during World War I. However, it went out of use when gold and blue star service banners were adopted by the U.S. The color silver symbolizes the gallantry of service members, and blue symbolizes hope. An organization, the Silver Star Families of America, brought back awareness of the banner itself and also lobbied states and the United States Congress to name May 1st as the day to recognize it. In 2010, Congress and President Barack Obama acknowledged this date of recognition.

National Archive and Records Administration| Public Domain 
1st Lt. Linda Bowser, an Air Force nurse with the 8th TFW MEDCAP team, examines a Thai girl. 1/10/1974.

MAY 6

National Nurses Day

National Nurses Day honors our nation’s nurses, both civilian and military. We honor the men and women who put their lives on the line to care for the ill and wounded. The contributions of U.S. military nurses reaches as far back as the American Revolution when women cared for the fallen on battlefields and in camps. At the end of the 19th century, Florence Nightingale introduced strict hygiene practices while caring for wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. She helped usher in the foundations of modern-day nursing and inspired others through her commitment to patient care, example of compassion and diligent and thoughtful hospital administration.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army.

MAY 6

Military Spouse Appreciation Day

Military Spouse Appreciation Day honors our nation’s military spouses. Each year, the Friday prior to Mother’s Day is dedicated to U.S. military spouses across the globe. We are immensely grateful for all military spouses – their achievements, sacrifices and patriotism that help build and shape the communities we live in today.

Jubilant American soldier hugs motherly English woman and victory smiles light the faces of happy service men and civilians at Piccadilly Circus, London, celebrating Germany’s unconditional surrender.” Pfc. Melvin Weiss, England, May 7, 1945. Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives.

MAY 8, 1945

V-E Day marks an end of World War II in Europe

V-E Day marks the end of World War II in Europe. Victory in Europe or V-E Day celebrates the World War II Allies’ formal acceptance of Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces. Some 250,000 U.S. troops were killed in the fighting in the European theater. President Harry S. Truman announced V-E Day to the American people, saying in a radio address: “Our rejoicing is sobered and subdued by a supreme consciousness of the terrible price we have paid to rid the world of Hitler and his evil band. Let us not forget, my fellow Americans, the sorrow and the heartache, which today abide in the homes of so many of our neighbors – neighbors whose most priceless possession has been rendered as a sacrifice to redeem our liberty.”

MAY 13

Children of Fallen Patriots Day

Children of Fallen Patriots Day honors the families of our fallen. This day honors the more than 20,000 children who have lost a parent in service to our country. The date of May 13 was selected because it is also the day Arlington National Cemetery was established in 1864. This is the final resting place for many war heroes and serves as a reminder of their sacrifices.  

The Victory of Montcalm’s Troops at Carillon. Early 20th century painting by Henry Alexander Ogden (1854 1936). Fort Ticonderoga Museum, NY.

MAY 15, 1756

The Seven Years’ War conflict is fought over territory in North America

The Seven Years’ War conflict is fought over territory in North America. This war began between Great Britain and France when the British sought to expand into territory claimed by the French in North America. The war came to be known as the French and Indian War, with both the British and the French and their respective Native American allies fighting for control of territory. 

October, 2018 – National Veterans Memorial and Museum Grand Opening weekend, Columbus, Ohio. Photo by John David Helms, www.johndavidhelms.com

MAY 18

International Museum Day

International Museum Day was established in 1977 by the International Council of Museums to help unify the aspirations and efforts of museums across the globe and draw the attention of the public to their global activity. Museums are catalysts for cultural exchange, development of mutual understanding, cooperation, and peace among peoples across the world — last over 37,000 museums from 158 locations participated in International Museum Day.

October, 2018 – National Veterans Memorial and Museum Grand Opening weekend, Columbus, Ohio. Photo by John David Helms, www.johndavidhelms.com

MAY 21

Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day honors our nation’s service members of all U.S. military branches — past, present and future. Established in 1949, the day was conceived by President Harry Truman with inspiration by the recent unification of our military under the Department of Defense.

Clara Barton. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

MAY 21, 1881

The American Red Cross, a humanitarian aid organization, is founded

The American Red Cross, a humanitarian aid organization, is founded. The American Red Cross was founded by Clara Barton and Adolphus Solomons, and by 1882, the U.S. ratified the Geneva Conventions — laws that, to this day, protect the war-wounded and civilians in conflict zones. This later resulted in a U.S. congressional charter, officially recognizing Red Cross services. Barton served as president for 23 years and today, her legacy lives on through the volunteers and their enduring spirit of help and hope to many across the world.

Battle of Cantigny. Photo courtesy of the Marshall Foundation.

MAY 28, 1918

Battle of Cantigny marked the first major offensive for American Expeditionary Forces

Battle of Cantigny marked the first major offensive for American Expeditionary Forces. During World War I, the U.S. 1st Division, the most experienced of the five American divisions in France, led an assault on the town of Cantigny, France, making it the first divisional attack by the American Expeditionary Forces in the war. The objective was to both reduce the effectiveness of the German Army and instill confidence among the French.

NASA| Public Domain
President Barack Obama presents former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut and United States Senator John Glenn with a Medal of Freedom, Tuesday, May 29, 2012, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington.

MAY 29, 2012

Presidential Medal of Freedom is presented to Senator John Glenn

Presidential Medal of Freedom is presented to Senator John Glenn. On May 29, 2012, President Barack Obama presented U.S. Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and Senator John Glenn with the Medal of Freedom. According to the Obama White House, “It is the highest honor awarded to civilians in the U.S. The medal was established in 1963 by President Kennedy and presented to those who have made an especially meritorious contribution to the security and national interests of the U.S., world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” See what the Medal meant to him: What the Medal of Freedom Means to Me: John Glenn | whitehouse.gov (archives.gov).

A woman visits the grave of a fallen loved one in Upstate New York on Decoration Day. (Library of Congress)

MAY 30, 1868

First official Decoration Day, precursor to Memorial Day, was celebrated

First official Decoration Day, precursor to Memorial Day, was celebrated. On May 30, 1868, Ohio Rep. James A. Garfield, a former general and future U.S. president, addressed a crowd of 5,000 gathered at Arlington National Cemetery. May 30 was a day touted by the Grand Army of the Republic, an association of Union Civil War Veterans, as an official day of remembrance for people across the country. The hope was to honor the war’s dead by decorating the graves of Union soldiers.

Major Walter Reed. Courtesy of the U.S. Army.

MAY 1900

Major Walter Reed discovers breakthroughs on yellow fever

Major Walter Reed, a U.S. Army physician, led the team that confirmed the theory of the Cuban doctor Carlos Finlay that yellow fever is transmitted by a particular mosquito species, rather than by direct contact. This insight gave impetus to the new fields of epidemiology and biomedicine, and most immediately allowed the completion of work on the Panama Canal by the United States. Seven years after his death in 1909, Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, D.C. was opened.

Battle of Cold Harbor. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

MAY-JUNE 1864

Overland Campaign is fought over seven weeks

The Overland Campaign, a series of Civil War battles fought over seven weeks, began when Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of all Union armies, directed the actions of the Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. The final major battle of the campaign was waged at Cold Harbor where Grant gambled that Lee’s army was exhausted and ordered a massive assault against strong defensive positions. Although Grant suffered severe troop losses during the campaign, it was a strategic Union victory and led to the eventual surrender of Lee in April of 1865.

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