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Armed Forces Day 2013 events

Festivals, parades, motorcycle rides, museums and shopping in the region

Meet Billy Unger, the star of Disney's "Lab Rats," during the Armed Forces Day celebration at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

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Until 1949, the Army, Navy and the newly established Air Force each had its own day for public recognition. The single-day observance was a natural follow - on to the unification of the armed forces under one department - the Department of Defense - in 1947. Armed Forces Day did not eliminate the days of individual recognition for each service, but did relegate those days to internal commemoration.

Armed Forces Day is different from the other annual tributes that inspire reflection, appreciation and honor for warriors past and current. While Pres. Truman proclaimed this day for the purpose of national observance, it is not a national holiday like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, nor is it a federal holiday like Veterans Day. Armed Forces Day is, instead, a time when America officially reflects on the common purposes of our men and women serving in uniform.

"The heritage of freedom must be guarded as carefully in peace as it was in war," said U.S. Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson, who created the first Armed Forces Day in 1949. "Faith, not suspicion, must be the key to our relationships. Sacrifice, not selfishness, must be the eternal price of liberty. Vigilance, not appeasement, is the byword of living freedoms. Our Armed Forces in 1950 - protecting the peace, building for security with freedom - are "Teamed for Defense. ..."

Little did he know how important those words hold true, especially today, in a changing world.

This year's Armed Forces Day carries a similar theme as its historic launch day. The DoD's theme for 2013 is "Strong and Resilient - Prepared to Meet Any Challenge." Much like the message of yesteryear of faith, sacrifice and vigilance, the communities of the Puget Sound are getting prepared to come together and demonstrate those truths.

If the upcoming events are any indication, we will be ready.

Following is a guide to Armed Forces Day events in the region.

Festivals and Parades

Joint Base Lewis-McChord: The JBLM Armed Forces Day happens Saturday, May 18, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Cowan and Memorial Stadiums on base. The event is open to the general public. Event organizers have pulled out all the stops for an active, fun, and engaging day for the whole family. Modern, historic, and living military displays gives patrons an inside glance at military life. Live entertainment, food and craft booths, a 10K Volksmarch, roving entertainers, and more will be there to entertain patrons. For the younger set, great carnival rides and special guests Radio Disney Seattle will be on hand with special activities for the kids. Visitors that don't have an installation access pass must enter JBLM via the DuPont Gate, I-5 Exit 119. The general public patrons must have a valid driver's license, vehicle registration and insurance to drive on base. Vehicles are subject to search. Please obey all traffic and parking signage. For more event information, please visit their website at or contact them by phone at (253) 477-4299.

The 65th Armed Forces Day Parade and Armed Forces Day Festival (Bremerton): Who doesn't love a parade? The 2013 Armed Forces Day Parade marks its 65th year in the Bremerton community. The event kicks off May 18 at 10 a.m. in downtown Bremerton. The parade is free to the general public and features military units and military bands, local area school bands, snazzy floats, vintage and military vehicles, and so much more. Vendors will be on hand at the parade. That's not all. The Armed Forces Festival features a number of events during that week to mark the occasion. Breakfasts, a Heroes Barbeque, a military cook off, a golf tournament and Navy League gala are just some of the other events in the area that span over two weekends. Please visit the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce website at for all of the important details.

Armed Forces Day Motorcycle Rides

For the motorcycle enthusiast, show your Armed Forces Day pride with taking a sweet ride.

Old Soldiers Motorcycle Ride: The Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association is sponsoring this ride May 18, which features an open social and barbecue hosted by 2 Mile House Pub & Eatery (3447 Mud Bay Rd NW, Olympia) with music by Blues Bentley Band. Proceeds benefit Orting, Retsil and Medical Lake Washington State Soldier's Homes. Cost is $15 per bike. All riders are welcome. Registration begins at 9 p.m. at Northwest Harley-Davidson (8000 Freedom Ln NE, Lacey). For more information, call (601) 438-0488.

Harley Davidson of Renton Armed Forces Day Ride (Renton):

Oregon/Washington 4th Annual National Armed Forces FreedomRide (Vancouver): Click here.


Armed Forces Day Flag Ceremony and Celebration, Museum of Flight (Seattle): The Museum of Flight in Seattle, along with the Navy League of the United States, the Air Force Association and the Association of the U.S. Army, is celebrating Armed Forces Day Saturday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the museum. At noon, there will be a poignant flag raising ceremony. Public discussions featuring military leaders, a military concert, military equipment displays and much more will be featured at the museum. Active military and their families (five people maximum) will be admitted to the museum free of charge on this day. For more information and directions, visit the museum website at


Select King and Kitsap county Goodwill stores will be offering 20 percent discount for all active and retired military with valid identification. See Goodwill's website for participating stores:

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