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The official Air Force Birthday is recognized as September 18, 1947, which is the date of the passage of the National Security Act of 1947. That legislation created what would later become to known as the United States Department of Defense. This established the United States Air Force as a separate branch of military service.
The 71st Air Force Day will be celebrated on Wednesday, September 18, 2019.
Before the creation of the Air Force, the military’s flying operations were handled by the U.S. Army on land and the Navy by sea. The history of this branch of service is an important part of the history of air power in the United States. Naturally, the Air Force birthday owes a great deal to Orville and Wilbur Wright who pioneered mechanized flight with their successful mission in 1903.
How the U.S. Air Force Celebrates its Birthday
Celebrating the Air Force birthday isn’t the same as celebrations for Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day, etc. September 18 is not a national holiday, but military members observe the occasion with events and activities in local communities, in individual units and squadrons, and most notably with the Air Force Ball.
The Air Force Ball is not always held to coincide with the Air Force birthday, but has in the past be scheduled with September 18 in mind in notable “milestone years” such as the Air Force’s 70th anniversary. The traditions of the ball honor the same concepts as the Air Force birthday: the creation of air power, the fellowship of airmen across the service, and the future of the force.
On larger U.S. Air Force bases, air demonstrations by the Thunderbirds precision combat air demonstration squadron, military “tattoo” airshow events that feature a variety of aircraft in the air and on the ground.
There are also parties with promotion and retirement ceremonies that coincide with the Air Force birthday. In milestone years, there may even be parades and local events celebrating Air Force contributions to the local community.
How can you Celebrate this Holiday?
Celebrating the Air Force birthday on a personal level can be as simple as thanking an Airman for his or her service, flying the U.S. flag outside a residence or local business, or giving to an Air Force-specific charity or Veteran Service Organization (VSO) such as:
- Air Commando Association
- Air Force Association
- Air Force Sergeants Association
- Association of Air Force Missileers
- Society of Air Force Flight Surgeons
You can also volunteer time at Air Force base organizations and charities that operate on military bases such as the Red Cross or Air Force Aid Society. Consider donating time or money to the Air Force Assistance Fund or the nearest base with an Airman Family Readiness Center.
Getting involved with the Museum of Military History is great way to not only celebrate this holiday but also honor the Airman in your family.