Veterans and patriots from around the Metroplex gathered Saturday at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery to celebrate Armed Forces Day, commemorating the service of the members of the five American uniformed service branches.
Established by Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson in 1949, Armed Forces Day replaced separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days, consolidating them into a single day to coincide with each branch being unified into the Department of Defense.
While the Marine Corps retained its support for Marine Corps Day, the branch also lends support to Armed Forces Day.
In telling of the day’s history, the Department of Defense notes that “in a speech announcing the formation of the day, President Truman ‘praised the work of the military services at home and across the seas’ and said, ‘it is vital to the security of the nation and to the establishment of a desirable peace.’ ”
The day is designed “to recognize all the members of the armed forces,” Ellis County deputy sheriff Jerre Smith said.
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Smith played a part in Saturday’s ceremony, joining with 11 other buglers from around the area for the playing of “Taps” following the three volleys of the 21-gun salute.
A USMC JROTC unit from Fort Worth provided the color guard, and the invocation was given by one of the cemetery’s chaplains.
A Department of Defense Web site states that Armed Forces Day is celebrated annually on the third Saturday of May. Armed Forces Week begins the second Saturday of May and ends the third Sunday of May, the day after Armed Forces Day, adding that because of their unique training schedules, National Guard and Reserve units may celebrate Armed Forces Day/Week over any period in May.
Smith, part of Bugles Across America, has been giving his time to serve as a bugler for funerals and ceremonies honoring servicemen and women for about a year, he said, adding that Ellis County Sheriff Ray Stewart has supported him by allowing the use of a squad car and uniform for the ceremonies and to allow Smith the time off needed to undertake the duty.
While he mostly serves at military funerals or at events like last week’s ceremony in honor of National Peace Officers Memorial Day at the Ellis County Peace Officers Memorial, Smith said he has served at appropriate ceremonies for “pretty much anybody that calls.”
The service he provides allows families to not have to make use of an electronic recording of “Taps” provided by the military in the absence of a bugler, a practice which became available with the passage of a law in 2000 according the honor of military burial and the presence of at least two service members for all honorably discharged veterans or those men and women killed in action.
“Taps” is a military tradition dating back to the Civil War, when a Union general penned it during a campaign in the Shenandoah Valley.
“ ‘Taps’ is made for the end of the day,” Smith said. “In a way, it is very touching, and Gen. Butterfield really did his number when he reproduced it.”
For more information about Bugles Across America, visit www.buglesacrossamerica.org.
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