By the President of the United States of America
Forty-four years ago, President Harry Truman set aside a special day to salute the men and women who dedicate their lives to the ultimate act of public service: protecting and defending our lives, our liberties, and our right to the pursuit of happiness.
President Truman proclaimed the first Armed Forces Day at a major turning point in America's history. With the greatest sacrifice, we had just defeated the forces of global domination and tyranny, but we also were faced with the first chill of a Cold War that would last for four decades.
Through it all, from the blood and fire of World War II, to the nightmare fears of nuclear confrontation, America never lost hope, never despaired. We faced each threat with faith in God and in the skills, courage, and dedication of our men and women in uniform. We slept each night in the comforting knowledge that they held constant vigil.
Today we are at another turning point. The Cold War is over, but our Nation is faced with a host of new and more complex challenges to peace and stability in the world. Yet we face the future in a position of strength and with a powerful and ready military force.
As President and Commander in Chief, I am pleased to join with all Americans in saluting the men and women of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and the Coast Guard. We also thank their families and friends, whose love and sacrifice make a special contribution to America's security. The Nation's peace and stability are in very capable hands; we are deeply grateful.
Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, continuing the precedent of my nine immediate predecessors in office, do hereby proclaim the third Saturday of each May as Armed Forces Day.
I direct the Secretary of Defense on behalf of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and the Secretary of Transportation on behalf of the Coast Guard, to plan for appropriate observances each year, with the Secretary of Defense responsible for soliciting the participation and cooperation of civil authorities and private citizens.
I invite the Governors of the States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and other areas subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, to provide for the observance of Armed Forces Day within their jurisdiction each year in an appropriate manner designed to increase public understanding and appreciation of the Armed Forces of the United States.
I also invite national and local veterans, civic and other organizations to join in the observance of Armed Forces Day each year.
I call upon all Americans, not only to display the flag of the United States at their homes on Armed Forces Day, but also to learn about our system of defense and about the men and women who sustain it, by attending and participating in the local observances of the day.
Proclamation 5983 of May 17, 1989, is hereby superseded.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-four, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighteenth.
William J. Clinton
[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 11:50 a.m., May 23, 1994]