By Lisa Smith Molinari
The calendar is full of obscure national holidays.
Why, in the last week alone, we’ve been encouraged to celebrate National Chocolate Parfait Day, Scurvy Awareness Day and National Lumpy Rug Day.
Last month, we were afforded the opportunity to recognize Ex-Spouse Day, National High Five Day, Bat Appreciation Day and National Cheeseball Day. And next month, we’ll gear up for World Jugglers’ Day, Hug Your Cat Day and Waffle Iron Day.
And nestled in there – among all those weird holidays praising Paul Bunyan, Peach Blossoms and Ear Muffs – on the Friday before Mother’s Day, is Military Spouse Appreciation Day.
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 Jacob Stein of 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 good at social media.
However, there are 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 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 lifestyle. 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 on a husband’s or wife’s job – it’s a lifestyle commitment that requires a sense of duty, honor and patriotism.
Especially now, 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 are worth it.
This year, Military Spouse Appreciation Day falls on May 8th.
During the week you may feel compelled to celebrate Star Wars Day (May 4), Ferret Day (May 5) and Lost Sock Memorial Day (May 9), but carve out a little time out of your busy calendar to recognize a truly important national holiday.
On May 8th, commemorate Military Spouse Appreciation Day by acknowledging that, not only is it a real holiday, it’s really important.