Holidays allow us to reflect on important people and event in our lives and collective history. At the New Jersey Vietnam Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation we are starting a new series telling the stories of our nation’s military related holidays. Military Spouses Appreciation Day is the first in this series. We hope that you will join us in this celebration, add to the discussion in the comments, and come and visit us at the Memorial.
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 23, 1984 Military Spouse Day to recognize the importance of spouses in the readiness and well being of our service members. Congress then made Military Spouse Appreciation Day part of National Military Appreciation Month in 1999. The Department of Defense standardized the date by declaring the Friday before Mother’s Day is “Military Spouse Appreciation Day” to show appreciation for the sacrifices of military spouses.
Last year in his proclamation, President Donald Trump said this of military spouses, “Most military spouses hold no rank and wear no uniform, yet humbly serve our Nation with distinction. They endure deployments for weeks, months, and years at a time, sometimes with little warning, and they must brace themselves for the uncertainty that comes with goodbye. When duty calls, they shoulder the full day-to-day responsibilities of managing a household and often of parenting ‑‑ many times with little or no support. They face frequent relocations, which interrupt their careers and educational pursuits and require them to leave churches, homes, and friends. Most difficult of all, military spouses live with constant worry about the daily risks our military forces take for our country. Military spouses navigate these and other challenges with uncommon grace and inspiring strength.”
Martha Washington, wife of George Washington, Commander of the Revolutionary Army, followed her husband during the Revolutionary War. As you can imagine, there was concern for her safety, with fear that she could be captured by the British and held captive. In spite of this fear, Martha was so moved by the difficult conditions the troops endured that and she organized many non-military wives in the major cities of the time to support the soldiers. Monetary donations were collected and given to Martha, who in turn gave them to the General to disperse to the troops to best serve their needs. According to public documents, “Evidence from one of Mount Vernon’s account books indicates that Mrs. Washington herself donated $20,000 which was the equivalent of 6,000 pounds to the campaign of the Ladies”.
At the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation, we are fortunate that dozens of Vietnam Veterans dedicate their time and talent to us as tour guides for our Memorial, Museum and Education Center. They, better than anyone, can talk with authority about serving in the military and the sacrifices both they and their spouses and families endured on our behalf.
We would like to join in celebrating Military Spouses from all our nation’s conflicts as we appreciate and honor their sacrifices.