May signals the beginning of summer. Senior proms and pomp and circumstance graduation celebrations fill the days. End of school parties occupy weekends even before that last bell rings.
The month is also full of military observances. Four to be exact.
- May 8 is V-E Day (Victory in Europe)
On this day in 1945 the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.
A side note about the day:
The news came to the U.S. via Edward Kennedy— not the late Democratic senator from Massachusetts but a man by the same name who was the chief correspondent in Europe for the AP in 1945 and had watched the signing in person.
Unfortunately, Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight Eisenhower had imposed a news blackout on the surrender, under orders from President Truman. Kennedy defied the order and sent the news out anyway.
His defiance backfired instead of the greatest scoop of his career, it was the scoop from. Allied headquarters stripped away his press credentials, denounced him personally for breaking the rules, and expelled him from liberated France to New York, where the AP promptly fired him. In 2012, he finally won a posthumous apology.
Newsbreak or unethical double cross? That is the question even among news reporters today. In our day of Twitter and Instagram, it’s hard to believe Kennedy was the only reporter in 1945 willing to break the news blackout.
- Armed Forces Day on May 19.
The day set aside to show appreciation to all active duty service members. Not to be confused with Veterans Day (November 11) or Memorial Day (May 27 this year). Both of those days commemorate the men and women who died while in the military service.
- May 22 is National Maritime Day.
The day set aside to observe the U.S.’s proud maritime heritage and honor the men and women who serve and have served as merchant mariners.
- May 27 is Memorial Day.
Originally called Decoration Day, many wear red poppies on Memorial Day which symbolize the red poppies that grew on a battlefield in Belgium during World War I and immortalized by Canadian Lt. Colonel John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields.
Moina Michaels, an American professor, wrote her own poem in 1918.She was also the first to wear a poppy, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money benefiting servicemen in need. Four years later, the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to sell poppies nationally.
A little side note about this day:
A Memorial Day picnic and poppies play a prominent role in the love story of Green Beret Alex Cabot and Department of Army Civilian Lily Reed, The Pendant’s Promise.
Then there are high school graduations, college graduations, birthday parties, and Mothers’ Day.