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As May winds down, many thoughts turn to Memorial Day and the meaning behind that holiday. However, another significant holiday takes place each May, giving us another opportunity to recognize and honor our uniformed heroes: Armed Forces Day.
Proclaimed by President Harry S Truman in 1949, Armed Forces Day is the third Saturday in May. It was designed to promote the unification of the various branches of service, but, more importantly, to pay tribute to those serving in all of the armed forces. It actually is a holiday celebrated around the world, but unfortunately, it’s been relatively quiet in these parts. That is, until 2005, when a group of residents hosted the first Hooray for Heroes festival in Radcliff.
Hooray for Heroes is a day-long celebration honoring military families, past and present, and other first responders. It is the community’s way of thanking them for their service and sacrifice. It’s a day when soldiers and their families can take a break from thinking about deployment, training missions or moving to the next duty station and instead focus on food, fun and fellowship.
An all-volunteer committee works year-round to raise money and coordinate the event, which takes place on the grounds of Stithton Baptist Church in Radcliff. Everything for the military is free at Hooray for Heroes — food, live entertainment, amusements for the kids, games, prizes and activities. Families will enjoy everything from a huge train display to interactive military vehicles. Family fun at no cost? Quite a deal during these tough economic times.
Hooray for Heroes is a true community effort, bringing together local businesses that set up booths and give away goodies to the heroes and dozens of volunteers who cook and serve the food, operate the amusements and help the event run smoothly.
Following the daytime fun and festivities, a patriotic tribute is held in the evening inside the church, again to honor and thank those who have served and are serving. Musical tributes, recognition of POW/MIAs and local fallen heroes, and a parade of uniformed heroes — including first responders and emergency personnel — is part of the salute that never fails to bring a tear to the eye and a lump of pride to the throat.
Our military deserves praise for the sacrifices they make day in and day out for our freedom. May also is Military Spouse Appreciation Month and Hooray for Heroes is the perfect venue to thank spouses and family members for their devotion and support as well. We can’t forget the men and women in harm’s way are our neighbors and friends. They represent our community, our churches, our schools, our towns. We praise them and appreciate them for all they do.
Hooray for the Hooray for Heroes organization, which started out as a small idea and has turned into a very big deal. Thanks to the volunteers who make it happen each year and to all the sponsors and supporters who take part in one amazing Armed Forces Day celebration.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.