Every November since 1993 has been federally recognized as Military Family Appreciation Month. During this month, several military-themed holidays are celebrated. This period is a great opportunity to show your appreciation for both veterans and military families who have loved ones in the armed forces. If you know any of these people in your life or just want to anonymously help out with those you might not know, November is the perfect time to show them you recognize the uncommon challenges they go through.

Military families serve along with their loved servicemembers. They are aware of the risks involved in serving in the armed forces as well as the sacrifice of being away from them during long periods of training and deployment.

The history of Military Family Appreciation Month

In 1993, the Armed Services YMCA looked for a way to honor military families and recognize their sacrifice, dedication, and contributions to the armed forces which they’re an intrinsic part of. Thus, they came up with Military Family Appreciation Month as a time to do exactly that. After being officially endorsed by the President of the United States, November was chosen as the month in which the observation would take place.

The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.The appearance of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

What military-related holidays happen in November?

Several important holidays take place in November, and they’re perfect opportunities to plan out your shows of appreciation.

First is the Marine Corps’ Birthday on Nov. 10. This originated in 1921, when Marine Corps Order No. 47 was issued. This order intended to commemorate the founding of the Marine Corps and directed that it be repeated each year on the same day. This day is typically commemorated with the annual Marine Corps Birthday Ball. First held in 1925 and observed every year since, the ball includes entertainment, cake, and a formal dinner.

The celebration of the Marine Corps’ birthday has evolved over the years. In 1923, a formal dance was held at the Marine Barracks in Ft. Mifflin, Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, a mock battle occurred at the Washington Navy Yard, and a baseball game was held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Later, in 1925, the first official Birthday Ball was held in Philadelphia. The cake-cutting ceremony began in 1952, which included the first piece of cake being presented to the oldest Marine present and being passed to the youngest as a symbol of the tradition passing.

After that is Veterans Day on Nov. 11. This day is especially important, as it is a federally-recognized holiday specifically meant as a day to pay respect to veterans. The day was originally known as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I, but was later expanded to include all veterans.

Thanksgiving is also a part of Military Family Appreciation Month as one of the ideal times to give thanks to the people in our armed forces who have dedicated their lives to keeping America and its citizens safe from harm. Military families at the Thanksgiving table can use this opportunity to appreciate their loved servicemembers, while non-military families can take the time to show respect to both servicemembers and their families.

However you choose to recognize the holidays during Military Family Appreciation Month, it’s important to always give thanks both to servicemembers and their families so they know they’re loved and appreciated. In addition to the ever-important respect toward the members of the armed forces themselves, remember that the families of servicemembers have their own unique challenges to tackle every day and they deserve recognition just as much as their cherished servicemembers do.