Federal Holidays

  • New Years Day (January 1)
  • Inauguration Day (January 20 of each fourth year after 1965)
  • The Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (the third Monday in January)
  • Washington's Birthday (also referred to as President's Day -- the third Monday in February)
  • Memorial Day (the last Monday in May)
  • Independence Day (July 4)
  • Labor Day (the first Monday in September)
  • Columbus Day (the second Monday in October)
  • Veterans Day (November 11)
  • Thanksgiving Day (the Fourth Thursday of November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)


Patriotic Holidays

Other Holidays


Inauguration Day

On April 30, 1789, George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States of America.  Inauguration takes place upon the commencement of the President serving their term of office.

 President Washington was sworn in by Robert Livingston, the Chancellor of the State of New York, at the Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York City. 

 Washington wrote to James Madison:

                   "As the first of every thing, in our situation we serve to

                    establish a Precedent.  It is devoutly wished on my

                    part, that these precedents may be fixed on true



Washington's second inauguration ceremonies took place on March 4, 1793, with William Cushing, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, administering the oath of office in the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 Since that time, presidential inaugurations have been held (with few exceptions) on the 4th of March every four years through and including the year 1933. 

 In 1933 the Twentieth Amendment of our Constitution (which sets the beginning and ending dates for elected federal official's terms) was ratified.  Section 1 of the Twentieth Amendment states:

                     "The terms of the President and Vice President shall

                     end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms

                     of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d

                     day of January, of the years in which such terms would

                     have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the

                     terms of their successors shall then begin." 

 From January 20, 1937 to (and including) January 20, 2009, presidential inaugurations have been held (with few exceptions) every four years on the 20th day of January.  Our country's next presidential inauguration will be on January 20, 2013.

 Article Two, Section One, Clause Eight of the United States Constitution requires the President elect to take an Oath of Office prior to assuming the duties of the office.  Wording is specific within the Clause:

             "Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he

              shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:

             "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully

              execute the Office of President of the United States,

              and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect

              and defend the Constitution of the United States."


This is the only constitutionally mandated requirement before a President can assume the duties of the office, however, over the years many traditions have arisen surrounding the inauguration and 'Inauguration Day' has become an elaborate day long event of ceremonies, oaths, speeches, musical renditions, Congressional luncheons, prayers, parades, and gala balls.

 On March 4, 1801, at the Senate Chamber of the US Capital, Thomas Jefferson was the first President to take his oath in Washington, DC.  Most successive Presidents have done the same, however, those who have had to assume office upon the death or resignation of a serving President, take their oath at their immediate locations.

 Presidents who must assume remaining terms of office due to death, resignation, or removal of a previous President do not have inaugurations.  

 When March 4th or January 20th has fallen on a Sunday, tradition is that the President elect takes his oath privately and assumes his office on the official day (one President taking his oath on the Saturday before) ~ but public 'Inauguration Day' festivities do not start until the following day, i.e. March 5th and January 21st respectively.

 Since 1901, the Congressional Joint Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has organized all ceremonies at the US Capital.  And since 1953, military participation in the inauguration ceremonies has been coordinated by the  Armed Forces Inaugural Committee (now called the Joint Task Force-Inaugural Committee).

 Since 1937, the Vice President elect also takes the Vice Presidential oath of office during the same ceremony as the President elect takes the Presidential oath of office, with the Vice President elect's oath being administered first.  Prior to that time, the oath for the Vice President elect has been administered in the Senate.  The oath taken by the Vice President is not mandated by our Constitution and it has had several variations since 1789.   Since 1884, however, the same oath that is administered to other government officials, such as the members of House of Representatives and the Senate, is being used.

 Since 1953, the Congress has held a luncheon following the inauguration ceremony, at which both the President and the Vice President are honored.

 Security is, of course, of top level throughout 'Inauguration Day' with the Capital Police, Metropolitan Police, all five branches of our Armed Forces, the FBI, Secret Service, ICE-FPS, and other law enforcement agencies on duty.

 US Code  Title 5, Part III, 6103(c)  states:    

                       (c) January 20 of each fourth year after 1965, Inauguration

                       Day, is a legal public holiday for the purpose of statutes 

                       relating to pay and leave of employees as defined by

                       section 2105 of this title and individuals employed by the 

                       government of the District of Columbia employed in the

                       District of Columbia, Montgomery and Prince Georges

                       Counties in Maryland, Arlington and Fairfax Counties in

                       Virginia, and the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church in     

                       Virginia. When January 20 of any fourth year after 1965

                       falls on Sunday, the next succeeding day selected for the

                       public observance of the inauguration of the President is

                       a legal public holiday for the purpose of this subsection.


Although hundreds of thousands of people from across the United States gather in Washington, DC for the events of Inauguration Day, as a federal holiday every fourth year since January 20 of 1965, authorities are allowed more opportunities for tighter security with less 'work related' traffic and other congestion in the DC area.

 Over the years, not only has 'Inauguration Day' itself expanded with events and festivities, but also many celebratory events are held in DC for five days prior and five days post inauguration of the President United States who was elected to office during the previous November's elections.

Washington's Birthday

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George Washington, born on February 22, 1732, was the first President of the United States of America (April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797). 


We find these words in The U. S. National Archives (Prologue Magazine ~ Winter 2004, Vol. 36, No. 4):  "Historic dates, like stepping stones, create a footpath through our heritage.  Experienced by one generation and recalled by those to come, it is through these annual recollections that our heritage is honored.  In 1879 the Forty-fifth Congress deemed George Washington's birth date, February 22, a historic date worthy of holiday recognition."


George Washington's birthday had been publicly celebrated in our country since his first term in office ~ and in 1880, 20 Stat. 277 (United States Statutes at Large) implemented the February 22 date as a federal holiday for government offices in the District of Columbia.  Named "Washington's Birthday", said observance was later expanded to include all federal offices in 1885 by 23 Stat. 516.  After almost two centuries of celebrating the birthday of the "Father of Our Country" on February 22, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act (Pub.L. 90-36) placed the date of observance on the third Monday of February. 


Signed into law on June 28, 1968 and taking effect on January 1, 1971, the Act of Congress moved several federal holidays (Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day) from their fixed dates to 'designated Mondays', creating three-day weekends for federal employees.  Please note: Veterans Day was returned to its originally date of November 11 and removed from the 'designated Monday' category of federal holidays by another Act of Congress in 1975 (effective 1978). 


A draft of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act (Uniform Holidays Bill of 1968) indicated request to change the name of 'Washington's Birthday' to 'Presidents' Day' to honor both President George Washington and President Abraham Lincoln (Lincoln's birth date being February 12) on the third Monday of February.  Though the move of the celebration  of Washington's birthday from February 22 to the third Monday of February did place the observance in the week between the dates of the two President's birthdays and although it did place it closer to the date of Lincoln's birthday, the Act did not combine the observance of the two birthdays, did not  include the celebration of Lincoln's birthday, and did not officially establish 'Presidents' Day'.  'Washington's Birthday' remained as the first federal holiday established to give recognition and honor to an individual American citizen.


Some confusion can come in when discussing the 'name' and 'purpose' of the 'holdiay', as US States are able to define and determine their own holidays (which can differ from federal holidays).  Many do designate 'Presidents' Day', which serves  to celebrate the observance of both President's birthdays.


An attempt to create an annual 'Presidents' Day' on March 4th (the original 'Inauguration Day') to honor the Presidency itself (the office ~ and not any particular President) began in 1951 when Harold Stonebridge Fischer formed the "President's Day National Committee".  The Senate Judiciary Committee stalled the bill which would do so, however, believing it would be too much to have three observances (Lincoln's Birthday, Washington's Birthday, and Presidents' Day) so close together.   On the other hand, some Governors did proclaim March 4th Presidents' Day in their own jurisdiction (later moving the date to the third Monday of the month of February). 


During the 1980s, a new business practice caught on in our country whereby merchants would run 'Presidents' Day' sales.  Abundant advertisements for such became common each February, and the marketing term 'Presidents' Day' increasingly grew in popularity.


The official legal name, however, for the federal holiday remains 'Washington's Birthday'.  It was established to honor George Washington and his accomplishments.  He was a gallant military commander in our country's War of Independence, gave outstanding leadership in the founding of our country, and set many precedents in unifying our republic, developing the Presidency, and establishing our national government.  


A man of high personal integrity, well liked by all, these words were given by Congressman Henry Lee as he eulogized Washington:

              "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none

               in humble and enduring scenes of private life. Pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere;

               uniform, dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were

               the effects of that example lasting. . . . Correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence

               and virtue always felt his fostering hand. The purity of his private character gave effulgence

               to his public virtues. . . . Such was the man for whom our nation mourns."


Like Memorial Day and Veterans Day, the celebration of Washington's Birthday brings about another opportunity to remember to pay honor and tribute to the beloved veterans of our country.  In 1932, on what would have been Washington's 200th birthday, the Purple Heart which recognizes injuries received at war, was brought forth in direct relation to the first military badge of merit created and given to soldiers by Washington.


The Badge of Military Merit (the original Purple Heart) was established by order of George Washington on August 7, 1782, said order including the following statement:

               "Let it be known that he who wears the military order of the purple heart has given of his blood

                 in the defense of his homeland and shall forever be revered by his fellow countrymen."

Memorial Day


In the United States, we set aside 'Memorial Day' to remember and give honor too all those who have given their lives in the military service of our country.  Memorial Day is a Federal Holiday, and is presently observed on the last Monday in the month of May each year.
Since 1950, the President of the United States has issued, in accordance with Congressional joint resolution (see US Code Title 36, Subtitle I, Section  116), a Presidential Proclamation which calls all Americans to a solemn remembrance of our beloved heroes.  The most recent Proclamation (2009) reads in part:
               "For over two centuries, Americans have defended our National security and protected our founding principles of democracy and equal justice under law.  On Memorial Day, we honor those who have paid the ultimate price in defense of these freedoms.  Members of the United States Armed Forces have placed our National safety before their own for generations. From the first shots fired at Lexington and Concord to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, these brave patriots have taken on great risks to keep us safe, and they have served with honor and distinction.  All Americans who have enjoyed the blessings of peace and liberty remain in their debt.  As we remember the selfless service of our fallen heroes, we pray for God's grace upon them.  We also pray for all of our military personnel and veterans, their families, and all those who have lost loved ones in the defense of our freedom and safety.  Today, as we commend their deeds, we also bear a heavy burden of responsibility to ensure their sacrifices will not have been in vain.  This means that, as we uphold the ideals for which many have given their last full measure of devotion, the United States must never waver in its determination to defend itself, to be faithful in protecting liberty at home and abroad, and to pursue peace in the world."
The Proclamations request Americans to unite to pray for permanent peace, usually designating a particular time for that prayer.  American flags are flow at half-staff from dawn until noon throughout our land.  And, in accordance with The National Moment of Remembrance Act (Public Law 106-579 --  signed into law in December of 2000), each American is asked to pause at 3:00 pm (local time) to remember those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the military service of our country.
Memorial Day is sometimes still referred to by it's original name, 'Decoration Day'  ~ called thus, in relation to the practice of 'decorating' the graves of Civil War soldiers with flowers.  These annual Spring time tributes began in May of 1866 and were observed in both the north and the south.  On May 5, 1868, Major General John Logan, the National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (a Union Veteran Organization), issued General Order No. 11, proclaiming May 30th 'Decoration Day' nationwide: 
               "The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit."
The first celebration of such was held at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868, with General James Garfield giving the tribute speech on the veranda of what was once the home of General Robert E. Lee.   More than 20,000 graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers laying at rest on the hallowed ground of Arlington were then decorated by those who had come to pay honor. 
Over time, some twenty-five cities stepped forward claiming to be the 1866 'birth place' of the observance of this great tribute. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson and our federal government declared it to be Waterloo, N.Y., giving it this distinguished honor.
After World War I, those to be honored by this observance broadened to include the fallen of all American wars.  In 1882 the name 'Memorial Day' began being used, growing in popularity particularly after World War II, and becoming the 'official name' under Federal Law in 1967. 
The Uniform Holiday Bill, passed by Congress on June 28, 1968, moved the observance of 'Memorial Day' from the date of May 30th to the last Monday in the month of May.  (Said Federal Law taking effect on the federal level in 1971; Public Law 90-363.) 
Since that time, many have been advocating to have the observance returned to the traditional date.  Beginning in 1987, Hawaii's Senator Daniel Inouye has introduced measures at the Congressional level to do so.  The 2002 Memorial Day Address of the Veterans Of Foreign Wars states:
               "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed a lot to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."
To this day, the national ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery continues annually, with the President or Vice-President of the United States speaking to the thousands who have gathered to honor our war dead.  Wreaths are laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and American flags are placed on graves across the Cemetery.  People across our land visit cemeteries, march in parades, and attend events to signify their great debt of gratitude to those who have given so much that we might live in the Land of The Free!
Moina Michael, who initiated the idea and was the first to wear a red Poppy on Memorial Day, also wrote this poem in 1915 in response to the famous 'In Flanders Field': 
               We cherish too, the Poppy red
               That grows on fields where valor led,
               It seems to signal to the skies
               That blood of heroes never dies.

Coast Guard Birthday
Semper Paratus  ~ Latin for 'Always Ready' ~ Is Both the Motto and the Theme Song of the United States Coast Guard!
The United State Coast Guard is a unique branch of the Armed Forces of our country.  It has a dual mission of:    1) a maritime law enforcement mission (holding jurisdiction in both international and domestic waters)   and   2) a federal regulatory agency mission.
Maritime Law (also known as Admiralty Law) is a body of law which encompasses both 'domestic law' (which governs maritime questions and offences) and 'private international law' (which governs questions and offences that deal with private entities with vessels in the oceans).  A federal regulatory agency has the right and responsibility to regulate and supervise in matters through the use of autonomous authority.  
The Coast Guard was established on August 4, 1790 when the United States Congress authorized the then Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, to create and establish a maritime force (1 Stat. L. 145, 175).  Due to the lawlessness on the seas and a struggling homeland economy dependant upon tariffs, Hamilton had been adamantly urging Congress to create a  'Revenue-Marine'  to enforce the tariffs and other maritime laws.  The Revenue-Marine was established and began to operate under the authority of the United States Department of the Treasury. 
In 1794, they began intercepted slave ships that were illegally importing slaves to the United States.   Between 1798 and 1801 they fought on the seas alongside the newly formed United States Navy during the 'undeclared war' between the United States and France.  And, they were the enforcers of the Embargo Act of 1807, which outlawed practically all European trade in American ports until 1808.  In 1832, the then Secretary of the Treasury Louis McLane assigned additional duties along with the main function of being an armed maritime law enforcement service.  The new duties included coming to the aid of mariners in distress and/or need.  Congress, in 1837, made this an official part of their duties.  
The Revenue-Marine was later renamed the 'United States Revenue Cutter Service'  by act of July 31, 1894  (28 Stat. 171).  And on January 28, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law an act which would combine the Revenue Cutter Service with the Lifesaving Service (shore based stations of volunteers which assisted ships wrecked near shore)  ~  this forming the United States Coast Guard (38 Stat. L., 800).  Title 14 of the US Code states:  "The Coast Guard as established January 28, 1915, shall be a military service and a branch of the armed forces of the United States at all times."    .
In 1939 the United States Lighthouse Service was also incorporated into the Coast Guard, and in 1942 the Navigation and Steamboat Inspection Service.  In 1946, the Bureau of Marine Inspection was abolished as an independently agency and became a permanent  part of the United States Coast Guard.  It is important to take note of these individual agencies and what they brought to the whole of the make up of the Coast Guard.  Of particular note would be the search and rescue procedures of the Lighthouse Service.  This lifesaving mission is often seen today by many to be the Coast Guard's main and most important service. 
Through the years, though most often operating under the authority of the United States Department of the Treasury, during periods of war the President of the United States has the authority to  ~ and did ~ transfer by Executive order the operations of the Cutter Service (Coast Guard) to the Department of the Navy.  On April 1, 1967, the Coast Guard was transferred from the Department of the Treasury to the newly formed Department of Transportation by Executive Order 167-81.   On March 1, 2003, it was again transferred to another newly formed Department, the Department of Homeland Security, under who's authority it remains today.
Of itself, the Coast Guard says:
      By law, the Coast Guard has 11 missions:
  • Ports, waterways, and coastal security
  • Drug interdiction
  • Aids to navigation
  • Search and rescue
  • Living marine resources
  • Marine safety
  • Defense readiness
  • Migrant interdiction
  • Marine environmental protection
  • Ice operations
  • Other law enforcement

(listed in order of percentage of operating expenses)

Thus, we are military, multi-mission, and maritime.

POW/MIA Recognition Day

Today, the third Friday of September, is observed annually in America as POW/MIA Recognition Day. From morning to evening, solemn ceremonies of remembrance are held throughout our country which pay homage to our wartime Armed Forces personnel who have been or are being held captive and to those who are missing in action.
The unknown fate of US servicemen missing in action from the Vietnam War and associated theaters of operation in Southeast Asia, was to bring forth US Public Law 101-355 on August 10, 1990. In said law, our 101st Congress designated the National League of POW/MIA Families' black POW/MIA Flag, "as the symbol of our Nation's concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation".
This flag now stands proud to honor and represent all POW/MIA of our nation from all U.S. wars, and it was flown today, Friday September 18, 2009, in ceremony after ceremony held by a grateful nation to honor our heroes who have sacrificed so much.
Our government has established the Defense Prisoner of War / Missing Personnel Office who oversees policies on the rescue of live soldiers and the recovery / identification of American remains. Please see their website for information:
Our Library of Congress has on public record our POW/MIA databases and documents:
We have a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command:
Each year the President of the United States issues a proclamation for POW/MIA Remembrance Day. You can view 2009 here:
We must never forget our brave men and women who have given so much that we might live free. Some still await today their journey home. Some, like the ex-prisoner of war that I heard speak today ~ forced to march 500 miles in the snow and ice, beaten and abused by guards, watching comrades fall to their death on the frozen ground ~ some, like him, never fully return..... And some, just never to be seen again.
Yes, we must remember ~ we must always remember! At present, there are an estimated 88,000 Americans still unaccounted for since WWII. Today we give special honor to them~ we remember ~ and we stand with their loved ones who still wait their return!



Gold Star Mothers Day

It is with both pride and sadness that we annually remember the Gold Star Mothers of our United States Armed Forces on the last Sunday of the month of September. Our pride in their valor, courage, and strength goes beyond anything we can express. Brave Americans who have raised their children to be outstanding citizens and committed patriots. Women who understand and cherish the American way and who have given all that we might live with freedom, dignity, and peace.
The memory of their precious child shall never fade, their lives living on in the daily life of all we are allowed to be and into the future in all that we can become. Gallantly, our Gold Star Mothers carry on for the promises yet to be fulfilled and the dreams yet to be lived.
It is the last Sunday of September that as a nation we stop to honor these women and to express our debt of gratitude for a gift which never can be repaid. The President of the United States issues proclamation for this honor according to US Code, Title 36, 111, section B stating:

(b) Proclamation.— The President is requested to issue a proclamation calling on United States Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings, and the people of the United States to display the flag and hold appropriate meetings at homes, churches, or other suitable places, on Gold Star Mother’s Day as a public expression of the love, sorrow, and reverence of the people for Gold Star Mothers.
The proclamation for this year can be found here:
As Blue Star Mothers we recognize our Gold Star Mothers as forever sisters, so loved among us, so treasured and cherished; they will always be a part of the Blue Star Family. Gold Star Mothers have also formed a support group unique unto themselves, the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. which can be found at:
Formed shortly after World War I to provide support for those who had lost children in the war, the organization has gone on to provide care for the veterans of our Armed Forces, give service to the troops of the United States during war time, foster patriotism and respect for our country and those who serve it, and gain Congressional charter as a Patriotic Organization under Title 36 of the U.S. Code.
The mama who founded what we know today as the Gold Star Mothers of America, Inc. was Grace Darling Seibold who lost her son, First Lieutenant George Vaughn Seibold, in August of 1918 in aerial combat over France. And we all are certainly humbled as we remember member Aletta Sullivan who on November 13, 1942 lost five beloved sons during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal when the USS Juneau (CL-52) went down.
Heart sacrifices always to be remembered, we wish to give special honor on Sunday, September 27, 2009 to the mothers of our country's defenders who have lost a child serving in the Armed Forces of our nation.



Navy Day
In 1922, the Navy League of the United Stated selected October 27th as 'Navy Day', a day in which to recognize and celebrate our Naval Forces.   Chaired by former Navy League National President Breckenridge, the first national Navy Day celebration was held that year with Navy shore stations and ships hosting 'open houses' across the nation.  With great pride and enthusiasm, people gathered to see the Navy on display!
The Secretary of the Navy, Edwin Denby, received the following note from President Warren Harding at that time:
"Thank you for your note which brings assurance of the notable success which seems certain to attend the celebration of Navy Day on Friday, October 27, in commemoration of past and present services of the Navy. From our earliest national beginnings the Navy has always been, and deserved to be, an object of special pride to the American people. Its record is indeed one to inspire such sentiments, and I am very sure that such a commemoration as is planned will be a timely reminder."
"It is well for us to have in mind that under a program of lessening naval armaments there is a greater reason for maintaining the highest efficiency, fitness and morale in this branch of the national defensive service. I know how earnestly the Navy personnel are devoted to this idea and want you to be assured of my hearty concurrence."
President Calvin Coolidge, Harding's successor, continued support of Navy Day and our Naval Forces, stating in a letter dated August 29, 1923, that our United States Navy is our nation's "first line of defense".
Chief of Naval Operations designate Navy Day (10/27) and the Navy Birthday (10/13) to be the two dates to be celebrated Navy wide on an annual basis.  Parades, educational lectures, government proclamations, and celebrations sometimes lasting several days, have given rise to a greater appreciation for our Navy and Naval heritage as we have marked the celebration of Navy Day across our country.
The specific date for this special day of honor and celebration was selected by the Navy League in recognition of the birthday of President Theodore Roosevelt, who had served as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy and who adamantly supported the concept of Navy Day and the ideals of the United States Navy.  October 27th was also the anniversary date of the report issued by a special committee of the Continental Congress in 1775 calling for the purchase of merchant ships which established our Continental Navy.    
Though attempts have been made over the years to move the celebration of Navy Day to October 13, the 'Birthday of the Navy' and even to 'Armed Forces Day' which is celebrated in May, it remains recognized on October 27th.  In 1945, the October 27th celebration coincided with the return of hundreds of naval ships to the continental United States after their overseas service in WWII.   President Harry S. Truman reviewed the fleet in the New York Harbor, joined in the parade and other festivities, and delivered his 'Navy Address' to the nation in which he paid tribute to the men and women of the United States Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard and the ships which had carried them to victory in the war.  President Truman's address can be found here:  
Though many countries establish a date on which to celebrate and honor their own Naval Forces, the United States Navy has remained the largest and most powerful Navy in the world since WWII.  A branch of the United States Department of Defense, the Department of the Navy includes the United States Marine Corps and during wartime engagement, the United States Coast Guard.  It is headed by the Secretary of the Navy and is the branch of our military force responsible for defending  our nation at sea and maintaining security on the seas wherever United States interests extend.


Marine Birthday

 Around the world this day, Marines will stop to remember and celebrate the high ideals and incredible values on which the United States Marine Corps was founded!  "Happy Birthday Marines!  November 10, 2009"
Two hundred and thirty-four years ago, a committee of our Continental Congress met in Philadelphia to draft a resolution which would establish two battalions of Marines to fight for a democratic people's independence on sea and shore.  This resolution was approved on November 10, 1775, officially forming our 'Continental Marines', the naval infantry.
With Captain Samuel Nicholas as the first commandant and Patriot Robert Mullan as the first captain and recruiter, the Marines were 'ready for action' by early 1776.  Serving aboard our Continental  Navy ships, it was the Marines duty to provide security for the ships whether in or out of port and for the ship's officers against any mutiny attempts.
Since that time, the duties and responsibilities of our Marine Corps have evolved and expanded according to the defense needs of the United States, advancing military doctrine, and American foreign policy.  Their mission taking new form and direction, their pride and honor growing as the noble and glorious legacy of the Marines took shape over the years.
In the year 1921, the Marine Corps began officially celebrating it's birthday on November 10, the anniversary of its founding.  General John A. Lejeune issued the Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921 which directed that the history, traditions, and mission of the Corps would be read to all Marines on that date. 
Though certainly taking many forms over the years depending on location and circumstances, the celebration of the Marine Corps Birthday is one of the most famous Marine customs.  Often festivities, which include a formal ball, will begin at the end of October and continue until mid November.  The first formal Marine Corps Ball to celebrate the birthday of the Corps was held in Philadelphia in 1925.
At the ceremonies, a sword is used to cut the birthday cake, a reminder that Marines are a unique band of warriors.  The first piece of cake is to be served to the guest of honor -- by tradition, cake is then presented to the oldest and youngest Marine attending; a legacy shown,, the nurturing of those following Marine Corps footsteps. 
An excerpt from the Marine Corps Manual is read along with the current year's 'birthday message' from the Commandant of the Corps.  The following is the 2009 message from General James T. Conway:


Date Signed: 10/5/2009 
ALMAR  Active  Number: 033/09 
R 051329Z OCT 09
ALMAR 033/09







For those serving and those who have served, the Birthday of the Marines is a special day to celebrate their heritage, their legacy, and their distinguished service.  Many are away this year in the battles of war; may they know the high regard and pride their country holds them in.  My they celebrate within their hearts, for wherever Marines are, the Marine spirit , values, and virtue are there also!


 Veterans Day is an official 'holiday' in the United States set aside to
honor all military veterans of our country and the sacrifices they have
made. It is celebrated annually, and is recognized as both a federal
holiday and a state holiday within all of our fifty states.

Originally it was known as 'Armistice Day', for it was on the eleventh hour
of the eleventh day in the eleventh month of 1918, that an armistice was
signed between the Allied nations and Germany which ceased the fighting of
World War I. People throughout the world rejoiced and celebrated, as they
believed World War I to be the 'War to End All Wars'.

In America, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first commemoration of
'Armistice Day' on November 11, 1919. And he stated the following words:
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with
solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and
with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has
freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her
sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

On June 4, 1926, Congress was to make this 'official' as they passed
resolution concurrent with President Wilson's proclamation. Request came to
them later, however, to make it a day to honor all of our veterans from all
of our wars when new realities made it clear that the end of the fighting of
World War I was not the end of world conflict or war. In 1954, Congress
replaced "Armistice" with "Veterans", and President Dwight Eisenhower
signed the bill which proclaimed November 11 as Veterans Day, the day to
remember and honor all veterans.

Although over time there have been legal attempts to change the celebration
of Veterans Day to other dates, and although many do celebrate the holiday
on 'near-by' dates for various reasons, and although many receive 'holiday
leave' on the following day if the date should fall on a Sunday, Congress
officially stated in 1978 that Veterans Day was to be observed on November
11 in the United States.

Throughout our land there are celebrations, memorials, parades, and other
events held annually on November 11 to remember and recognize with honor our
United States military veterans. Each year too, there is an official
wreath-laying ceremony held in Arlington National Cemetery at the Tomb of
the Unknown Soldier.

For more information on Veterans Day and for a list of celebrations that
will be taking place throughout out country, please visit the Department of
Veterans affairs website at:


Pearl Harbor Day

Separately, between November 10 -18, under the command of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, a Japanese Naval Fleet consisting of six aircraft carriers with 360 planes and 25 support vessels, left Kure Naval Base in Japan to assemble near the Kurile Islands on November 22, 1941, as a military striking force.
On November 26, the Strike Force moved out to position themselves, arriving some 275 miles northwest of Hawaii on December 6. This was a major strategic military movement on their part, as it was from there that they launched their surprise aerial attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu Island, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.
Hawaii Operation, Operation Z, as it was called by the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, launched its first strike December 7, 1941, at 0600 hours (6 AM in the morning - local time, Hawaii) resulting in the appearance of the first dive bomber over Pearl Harbor at 7:55 AM. 49 bombers, 40 torpedo planes, 51 dive bombers, and 43 fighter planes made the first wave of attacking aircraft ~ with 54 bombers, 78 dive bombers, and 36 fighter planes to follow in the second wave.
The deadly attack continued from 7:55 AM until 9:45 AM, destroying much of the American Pacific Fleet, knocking out most Hawaii based combat planes, claiming over 2,400 lives, and leaving behind over 1,300 wounded. (Please note that exact casualty/wounded figures and specifics on damaged/destroyed equipment will be found with minor variations dependant upon the official source from which they are taken.) Most sources state that the Japanese sank or destroyed nineteen ships, including all eight of our battleships (four sank, four damaged), three light cruisers, three destroyers, and several support vessels. Estimates of aircraft loss are given at 164 destroyed and 128 damaged. Horrifically, sources state 2,334 soldiers, sailors, and Marines killed along with 68 civilians; and 1,382 wounded. (US: Army KIA 222, WIA 360 ~ Navy KIA 2004, WIA 912 ~ Marines KIA 108, WIA 75 ~ CIVILIANS: KIA 68, WIA 35).
The first attack wave was commanded by Captain Mitsuo Fuchida; the second by Lieutenant Commander Shigekazu Shimazaki; a third, intended to destroy fuel storage tanks (containing 4.5 million gallons of fuel oil), torpedo storage areas, and most repair and maintenance facilities on the island was not launched, as the Japanese Force headed homeward fearing a counter attack to be immanent. Sources state that the Japanese lost to be 65 men and 29 planes.
Our American commanding officers on Oahu at the time of the attack were: Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, and our US Army Commander for Hawaii, Lieutenant General Walter Short.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt was to deam the date of this attack the "date which will live in infamy", as he addressed a joint session of Congress (and our nation via radio) at 12:30 PM on December 8, to request a Declaration of War against Japan.. By 4:00 PM both the Senate and House had given vote, the Senate responding with a unanimous vote in support of the war ~ the House with only one desending vote by pacifist Jeanette Rankin from Montana. President Roosevelt then signed the declaration, bringing the United States into World War II. You can see Roosevelt's original document (there is also audio) at:
The Japanese strike on Pearl Harbor was meant to destroy any possible threat the United States Navy's battleship force stationed in the Pacific might pose to the Japanese Empire's expansion program (expansion and conquest). It resulted in shocking Americans, unifying our country, and ending all isolationist-interventionist debates and positions people held in relation to the War (which had actually been started by Germany in March of 1938 when it began occupation of Austria and then Czechoslovakia.)
Because of treaties signed between the nations known as the Axis powers (Japan being one), the attack against Pearl Harbor brought the United States into World War II, joining with the Allied powers.
Military volunteers came by the thousands, the draft which was established by the Selective Service Act of 1940 was implemented, items on the home front became rationed (gasoline, sugar, butter, rubber, nylon, coffee, tea, etc.) so the war effort would have all that was needed, the auto industry stopped making cars and started making vehicles and planes for the war effort, women took men's places in the workforce that had gone to fight. America was united and the 'war cry' of our people was, "Remember Pearl Harbor"!
The 2009 Presidential Proclamation for Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day can be found here:



Thanksgiving Day
Today, the people of the United States celebrate one of our National Holidays,  'Thanksgiving'.   We gather with one another to give thanks for our many blessings, to enjoy family and home, and to remember loved ones who are not able to be with us on this day.
It was on September 25, 1789, while Congress was in session, that Congressman Elias Boudinot from the state of New Jersey stated that he “could not think of letting the session pass over without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining, with one voice, in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings he had poured down upon them.”  He proposed to both the House of Representatives and the Senate that they make joint request of President George Washington that he should issue proclamation for a day of thanksgiving for "the many signal favors of Almighty God."
On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued the first "Thanksgiving Proclamation", which declared November 26, 1789 a national day of 'thanksgiving and prayer' for our country.    You can read, hear, and learn more about the proclamation here:
Although the issuing of the Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation ceased in the early 1800s for some 45 years, the tradition was re-instituted by President Abraham Lincoln when he gave his 'Proclamation of Thanksgiving' on October 3, 1863   which declared that the last Thursday of November 1863 would be set aside for a nationwide celebration of thanksgiving.
Since that time, 'Thanksgiving' has been observed annually in the United States.  During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the observation date from the last Thursday of November to the third Thursday to allow for extra shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with Congress enacting what was called the 'fourth Thursday compromise'.  Though his reasoning was to boost our economy by extending the holiday shopping season, public protested was huge and rapidly became politicized.  In the year 1939, some states celebrated a 'Democratic Thanksgiving' on the third Thursday of November and others celebrated a 'Republican Thanksgiving' on the fourth Thursday of November.
Public outrage continued, even calling Thanksgiving 'Franksgiving' until December 26, 1941, when Congress passed a law ensuring a unified American celebration of Thanksgiving, declaring a National Holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.
There are numerous claims to the date and location of the 'First Thanksgiving Celebration' from which we model our present day American observance.  Record shows that the Spanish explorer, Francisco Vasquez de Coronada led a 'thanksgiving' celebration at the Palo Duro Canyon, in West Texas in 1541.  And on September 8, 1565, 800 settlers gathered for a 'thanksgiving' meal in the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, Florida, with their leader, Pedro Menendez de Aviles and the Timucuan Indians.
On June 30, 1564, René de Laudonnière, the leader of the colony of French Huguenots who had established the settlement which is now Jacksonville, Florida, recorded that they had sang and celebrated "thanksgiving' unto God.  Colonists in Jamestown who had diminished from 409 to just 60 survivors, called for a celebration of 'thanksgiving' when ships filled with food and supplies arrived from England in 1610.  And on December 4, 1619, when 38 colonists landed at another place in present-day Virginia that they called Berkeley Hundred, they also were to celebrate 'thanksgiving'.
In 1621, the most famous of 'thanksgiving' celebrations (and the one most Americans attribute to being 'the first traditional thanksgiving feast/celebration') took place between the surviving Mayflower Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native Americans in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Too, the settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony observed a celebration of 'Thanksgiving' on July 8, 1630. 
Colonists recorded that 'when the sailing ended and the ships were accounted for', there was a 'day of thanksgiving' in all plantations.  Passengers aboard the Arbella proclaimed they had celebrations of  'thanksgiving' while on route.  Yet, as no American Nation existed at any of these times, none of these 'thanksgiving' celebrations held national pronouncement or proclamation. 
It wasn't until George Washington stopped his troops in the open fields in 1777 while on route to Valley Forge that the first observance of 'thanksgiving' took place in the new United States of America.
Today, November 26, 2009, is Thanksgiving Day in our country.  And, no matter which past feasts and celebrations we look to as our 'First Thanksgiving', today is our day in which to set aside the time, as a Nation, to give gratitude and thanksgiving for all of our many blessings. 
Please see this year's Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation at:

Christmas Day

It is December 25, 2009, and America steps back to observe and celebrate "Christmas Day". Declared an annual federal holiday in the United States by Congress on June 26,1870, Christmas embraces the ideals of gentleness, giving, and peace as people throughout our country gather with family and friends to observe the traditions they hold dear.
As a faith festival, Christians celebrate with great hope and joy the birth of the Lord Jesus, Son of God, the promised One of the Old Testament, that will bring to them salvation and everlasting life. As a popular secular holiday, non-Christians focus on and enjoy Santa Claus, gift giving, mistletoe, special meals, joyful music, and other festivities of the season. Some combine the elements of religious ritual and secular observance; all maintain the spirit of peace and good will.
Present day traditions (whether faith based or secular) were not originally celebrated (or even tolerated) within the framework of our country's rigid puritanical beginnings. Rather, they have evolved over time, becoming more elaborate. and also taking on the customs and practices of other nations. To name a few, we took the idea of hanging stockings by the fireplace from England, decorating the Christmas tree from Germany, sending cards from Britain, Santa Claus from the Dutch, poinsettias from Mexico, 'Silent Night' from Austria.
It was in 1923 that our country began the tradition of having a 'National Christmas Tree' in the capital of our nation, Washington, DC. The first, was a 48 foot Balsam Fir from the state of Vermont, donated by Paul D. Moody, President of Middlebury College. It was placed in the Ellipse outside of the White House and on Christmas Eve of that year, our then President, Calvin Coolidge, lit the 2,500 red, white, and green bulbs that decorated it. An interesting history regarding the United States 'National Christmas Tree' and pictures can be found at the following link:
But more than all that, as we said, is the spirit of Christmas; a spirit that crosses lines of division and brings peace. The 'Christmas Truce' of World War I would teach us of this. It was Christmas Eve, 1914, when German troops in Belgium began decorating trenches and singing Christmas Carols! From the trenches across the way, as the battles of the war ceased, the British troops responded in Carol song!
Christmas greetings were called out to one another and soldiers even crossed lines to bring any small gifts they had to share. The dead were gathered with respect by all, brought 'home', morned, and buried. The night remained silent ~ thought brief, there had been an unofficial cessation of war through the spirit of Christmas. Other similar short Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Truces were to follow on both the Western and Eastern Fronts.
Humanity and Peace ~ Hope For a Future of Shalom ~ Good Will to All




 Black History Month

On February 11, 1986, the United States Congress passed Public Law 99-244, designating February of 1986 as "National Black (Afro-American) History Month". Noted wording in the Law being:
Whereas in 1926 Dr. Carter Godwin launched the celebration of of Negro History Week
Whereas this observance evolved into a month-long celebration in 1976
Whereas February 1, 1986, will mark the beginning of the sixtieth annual public and private salute to Black History
Concluding: "the President of the United States is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the people of the United States to observe that month with appropriate ceremonies and activities to salute all that Black Americans have done to help build our country."
On February 24, 1986, President Ronald Reagan issued Presidential Proclamation 5443 which included the following statements:
Black history is a book rich with the American experience but with many pages yet unexplored
Black history in the United States has been a proving ground for America's ideals
A great test of these ideas came with the Civil War and the elimination of slavery
The foremost purpose of Black History Month is to make all Americans aware of this struggle for freedom and equal opportunity
It not only offers black Americans an opportunity to explore their heritage, but it also offers all Americans an occasion and opportunity to gain a fuller perspective of the contributions of black Americans to our Nation
The American experience and character can never be fully grasped until the knowledge of black history assumes its rightful place in our schools and our scholarship
We owe the initial study of black history and the beginnings of the celebration of Black History Month to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who was to find in his studies at Harvard that history books basically ignored the black American population except to at times picture them within lower social positions. This disturbed him greatly, and he set about to write black American into their rightful place in American history. In 1915, he established the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History (originally called the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History) ~ in 1916 he founded the Journal of Negro History ~ and in 1926 he introduced 'Negro History Week' to bring national attention to the studies of the contributions that had been made by black Americans throughout the history of our country.
On February 3, 1975, President Gerald Ford issued a 'Message On the Observance of Black History Week' which stated: "It is most appropriate that Americans set aside a week to recognize the important contribution made to our nation's life and culture by our black citizens." The next year the observance was expanded from a week to a month and President Ford then issued his 'Message On the Observance of Black History Month' on February 10, 1976, which stated: "In the Bicentennial year of our Independence, we can review with admiration the impressive contributions of black Americans to our national life and culture."
On February 28, 1996, Senate Resolution 229 was issued, commemorating Black History Month ~ and on February 16, 2006, Senate Resolution 380, celebrating Black History Month. Since 1996, the Presidents of the United States have issued annual proclamations, said documents being titled: 'National African American History Month'.
Please see the 2010 Proclamation:
Presidential Proclamation -- National African American History Month
In the centuries since African Americans first arrived on our shores, they have known the bitterness of slavery and oppression, the hope of progress, and the triumph of the American Dream. African American history is an essential thread of the American narrative that traces our Nation's enduring struggle to perfect itself. Each February, we recognize African American History Month as a moment to reflect upon how far we have come as a Nation, and what challenges remain. This year's theme, "The History of Black Economic Empowerment," calls upon us to honor the African Americans who overcame injustice and inequality to achieve financial independence and the security of self empowerment that comes with it.
Nearly 100 years after the Civil War, African Americans still faced daunting challenges and indignities. Widespread racial prejudice inhibited their opportunities, and institutional discrimination such as black codes and Jim Crow laws denied them full citizenship rights. Despite these seemingly impossible barriers, pioneering African Americans blazed trails for themselves and their children. They became skilled workers and professionals. They purchased land, and a new generation of black entrepreneurs founded banks, educational institutions, newspapers, hospitals, and businesses of all kinds.
This month, we recognize the courage and tenacity of so many hard-working Americans whose legacies are woven into the fabric of our Nation. We are heirs to their extraordinary progress. Racial prejudice is no longer the steepest barrier to opportunity for most African Americans, yet substantial obstacles remain in the remnants of past discrimination. Structural inequalities -- from disparities in education and health care to the vicious cycle of poverty -- still pose enormous hurdles for black communities across America.
Overcoming today's challenges will require the same dedication and sense of urgency that enabled past generations of African Americans to rise above the injustices of their time. That is why my Administration is laying a new foundation for long-term economic growth that helps more than just a privileged few. We are working hard to give small businesses much-needed credit, to slash tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and to give those same breaks to companies that create jobs here at home. We are also reinvesting in our schools and making college more affordable, because a world class education is our country's best roadmap to prosperity.
These initiatives will expand opportunities for African Americans, and for all Americans, but parents and community leaders must also be partners in this effort. We must push our children to reach for the full measure of their potential, just as the innovators who succeeded in previous generations pushed their children to achieve something greater. In the volumes of black history, much remains unwritten. Let us add our own chapter, full of progress and ambition, so that our children's children will know that we, too, did our part to erase an unjust past and build a brighter future.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim February 2010 as National African American History Month. I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.

It is with both pride and sadness that we annually remember the Gold Star Mothers of our United States Armed Forces on the last Sunday of the month of September.  Our pride in their valor, courage, and strength goes beyond anything we can express.  Brave Americans who have raised their children to be outstanding citizens and committed patriots.  Women who understand and cherish the American way and who have given all that we might live with freedom, dignity, and peace.
The memory of their precious child shall never fade, their lives living on in the daily life of all we are allowed to be and into the future in all that we can become.  Gallantly, our Gold Star Mothers carry on for the promises yet to be fulfilled and the dreams yet to be lived.
It is the last Sunday of September that as a nation we stop to honor these women and to express our debt of gratitude for a gift which never can be repaid.  The President of the United States issues proclamation for this honor according to US Code, Title 36, 111, section B stating:
(b) Proclamation.— The President is requested to issue a proclamation calling on United States Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings, and the people of the United States to display the flag and hold appropriate meetings at homes, churches, or other suitable places, on Gold Star Mother’s Day as a public expression of the love, sorrow, and reverence of the people for Gold Star Mothers.
As Blue Star Mothers we recognize our Gold Star Mothers as forever sisters, so loved among us, so treasured and cherished; they will always be a part of the Blue Star Family.  Gold Star Mothers have also formed a support group unique unto themselves, the American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. which can be found at:  
Formed shortly after World War I to provide support for those who had lost children in the war, the organization has gone on to provide care for the veterans of our Armed Forces, give service to the troops of the United States during war time, foster patriotism and respect for our country and those who serve it, and gain Congressional charter as a Patriotic Organization under Title 36 of the U.S. Code.
The mama who founded what we know today as the Gold Star Mothers of America, Inc.  was Grace Darling Seibold who lost her son, First Lieutenant George Vaughn Seibold, in August of 1918 in aerial combat over France.  And we all are certainly humbled as we remember member Aletta Sullivan who on November 13, 1942 lost five beloved sons during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal when the USS Juneau (CL-52) went down. 
Heart sacrifices always to be remembered,  we wish to give special honor on Sunday, September 27, 2009 to the mothers of our country's defenders who have lost a child serving in the Armed Forces of our nation.

Rev. Lin McGee

Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc.

National Patriotic Instructor