Throughout May, the country and military commands around the world are celebrating the past and current achievements of member of the armed services during National Military Appreciation Month.
Now in its 15th year, National Military Appreciation Month honors active and reserve components from all branches, as well as family members, through a series of commemorations including: Loyalty Day, May 1; Victory in Europe Day, May 8; Military Spouse Appreciation Day, May 9; Armed Forces Day, May17; and culminating with Memorial Day, May 26.
“In every generation, there are men and women who stand apart. They put on the uniform and put their lives on the line so the rest of us might live in a safer, freer, more just world,” President Barack Obama said in his 2014 Armed Forces Day Proclamation. “Thanks to their extraordinary sacrifice, we are winding down more than a decade of war and strengthening alliances that extend our values. These are the gifts they have given us, and this is why we owe them a profound debt of gratitude.”
The president urged citizens to learn more about military service by attending observances and encouraged people to volunteer for organizations supporting the military.
At Washington Navy Yard local radio station 98.7 WMZQ-FM’s Brandon “Boxer” Nasby, host of “The Boxer Show,” broadcasted a live show at the Town Center building, May 13, as part of a weeklong special on Military Appreciation Month.
“I don’t think we would be where we are as a great nation without our military,” Nasby said. “Whether it’s today’s military, or our veterans from World War II who sadly are passing away every day, to our Vietnam veterans and everyone who’s contributed in the military—I think it’s important to say something to them and give back to them in some way.”
The U.S. Navy Band performed songs during the broadcast, and the U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard Drill Team showed off their precision skills outside as Boxer stood surrounded by carefully thrown bayoneted rifles whirling around him. He also tried his luck outrunning Ivan, a military working dog, during a demonstration by Naval District Washington’s military working dog unit.
“They’re the fabric of our nation,” Nasby said of the military. “I think it’s very important to do what we can to give back and give gratitude, give thanks, give appreciation.”
Elsewhere in the region, NDW volunteers supported the Special Olympics Armed Forces Day at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., May 21. Volunteers escorted athletes, presented awards, served as umpires and finish line personnel, and cheered on those competing. The Navy team featured two Sailors partnered with two Special Olympics athletes for the 4x100-meter relay.
NDW hosted a wreath-laying ceremony May 26 at the U.S. Navy Memorial to commemorate Memorial Day in Washington, D.C., with guest speaker U.S. Army Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Claude M. Kicklighter.
“Memorial Day is a time to gather, to remember, to honor those who have given all their tomorrows so we can live in a strong, beautiful America,” Kicklighter said at the event. “When you give all your tomorrows at a very young age, that’s a very high price to pay for our freedom.”
Military Appreciation Month in the Capital was capped off by the annual National Memorial Day Parade along Constitution Avenue, May 26.
Army Air Corps Lt. Col. (Ret.) Richard E. Cole, 98, a co-pilot of one of the aircraft from the Doolittle Tokyo Raid, served as the grand marshal of the nation’s largest Memorial Day parade. Of the 80 men who flew on the raid, Cole is one of only four surviving veterans.
Also featured in the parade were Gary Sinise, best known for his role as Lt. Dan in “Forrest Gump;” J.R. Martinez, an Army veteran, wounded warrior and actor; Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri; television host Rita Crosby; reporter Kirsten Haglund; and Eoin Macken and Jill Flint from the TV show, “The Night Shift.”
For more news and photos from Military Appreciation Month in NDW, visit www.facebook.com/NavDistWash.