The calendar is full of obscure national holidays.
Why, in the last week alone, we’ve been encouraged to celebrate National Outdoor Intercourse Day, Beer Pong Day, Scurvy Awareness Day, and National Lumpy Rug Day. Let’s just hope that no one threw a party to commemorate all four of these events at one time.
Last month, we were afforded the opportunity to recognize Ex Spouse Day, National Shrimp Scampi Day, High Five Day, Bat Appreciation Day, and my personal favorite, National Cheeseball Day. And next month, we’ll gear up for World Jugglers’ Day, Hug Your Cat Day, National Bubba Day, Monkey Around Day, and Waffle Iron Day.
And nestled in there -- among all those weird holidays praising Paul Bunyan, Peach Blossoms, and Ear Muffs -- appropriately on the Friday before Mother’s Day, is Military Spouse Appreciation Day.
With all these nonsense events on the national calendar, one might wonder, is Military Spouse Appreciation Day a real holiday? Or is it just another unsung observance like Extraterrestrial Abductions Day and Tell a Fairy Tale Day?
According to the Congressional Research Service, there are only “11 permanent federal holidays established by law … New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, Inauguration Day (every four years following a presidential election), George Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.”
The vast majority of “National Holidays” such as Grandparents’ Day, Squirrel Appreciation Day and even Halloween are not established by an act of congress, but rather, are the result of widely recognized tradition, brilliant corporate marketing campaigns, or a bunch of goofy college kids who are really good at social media.
However, there are a some special days of the year that, although they are not deemed to be federal holidays, they have so much national significance that the President of the United States issues an annual proclamation calling upon the public to honor the cause, event or individual.
Military Spouse Appreciation Day is one of those significant public observances.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan established Military Spouse Appreciation Day by Proclamation 5184, recognizing the countless sacrifices and unselfish contributions made by Military Spouses since the days of the Continental Army:
“[Military Spouses] subordinated their personal and professional aspirations to the greater benefit of the service family. Responding to the call of duty, they frequently endured long periods of separation or left familiar surroundings and friends to reestablish their homes in distant places. And there they became American ambassadors abroad. As volunteers, military spouses have provided exemplary service and leadership in educational, community, recreational, religious, social and cultural endeavors. And as parents and homemakers, they preserve the cornerstone of our Nation's strength—the American family.”
Thirty-five years later, Military Spouses continue to support their husbands, wives, families and country, despite facing serious career obstacles and family hardships because of their unpredictable, mobile military lifestyles. Why don’t we recognize “Accountant Spouses,” “Engineer Spouses,” or “Chef Spouses” in the same way as Military Spouses? Because being a Military Spouse is not just a description based upon a husband or wife’s job – it’s a total lifestyle commitment that requires each spouse to have their own sense of duty, honor and patriotism.
Today, with greater military recruiting retention challenges, it’s crucial that the public shows its appreciation for our all-volunteer military force, along with the family members at home. Like their husbands and wives, Military Spouses need to know that their sacrifices, dedication, and commitment are worth it.
This year, Military Spouse Appreciation Day falls on May 10th.
During the month you may feel compelled to celebrate Lost Sock Memorial Day (May 9), Dance Like a Chicken Day (May 14), Sea Monkey Day (May 16), and Mint Julep Day (May 30), but carve out a little time out of your busy calendar to recognize a presidentially-approved national holiday.
On May 10th, after we’ve cleaned our rooms in honor of National Clean Up Your Room Day of course, let’s all celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day by acknowledging that, not only is it a real holiday, the Military Spouses it commemorates are really important.