When General Douglas MacArthur accepted the Sylvanus Thayer Award in May 1962 at West Point, his speech to cadets included three words that still resonate with U.S. military personnel everywhere: “Duty. Honor. Country,” General MacArthur said. “Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.”

The lifelong commitment behind those three words is one of the many reasons we celebrate Military Appreciation Month. Congress officially designated May as Military Appreciation Month in 1999, and every year the president issues a proclamation reminding Americans to celebrate and pay tribute to past and present military members for the protection and support they’ve brought us—and for the sacrifices they and their families have made.

May is a month filled with tributes to our military

May is filled with military-related occasions, providing plenty of opportunities to work together as individuals, families, communities, and businesses to support our military and demonstrate our appreciation. Special military-related occasions this month include:

  • Loyalty Day – May 1
  • Military Spouse Appreciation Day – May 6*
  • Victory in Europe (VE) Day – May 8
  • Armed Forces Week – May 14-21, 2022*
  • Armed Forces Day – May 21*
  • Memorial Day – May 30**

These dates vary every year, with Military Spouse Appreciation Day on the Friday before Mother’s Day; Armed Forces Week occurring the week leading up to Armed Forces Day; Armed Forces Day on the third Saturday of the month; and Memorial Day on the last Monday in May.

Ways to show your appreciation

As conflicts escalate in other parts of the world, our concerns and appreciation for America’s military also grow. If you’d like to support the military community during Military Appreciation Month—or throughout the year—here are some suggestions.

  • Volunteer at a nearby VA medical center.
  • Call your local American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post to see how youcan help support local veterans.
  • Attend a parade or other event honoring U.S. military members.
  • Make a care package for troops stationed overseas. The nonprofit United ServicesOrganizations (USO) provides helpful suggestions here.
  • Fly the American flag, following proper protocols.
  • Donate to organizations that provide needed support to military members and theirfamilies. Examples include Disabled American Veterans, Homes for Our Troops, OperationHomefront, and Wounded Warrior Project.
  • Volunteer to help the spouse of a deployed military member who might need supportwith childcare or daily tasks.
  • Buy a meal, cup of coffee or a drink for a military member.
  • Send a card or a note to someone in the military.
  • Tell military members, “Thank you for your service,” and give them a smile anda handshake.

As small as some of these demonstrations of appreciation may seem, they mean a lot to our military. Don’t underestimate your power to share your appreciation.