What is the difference between Navy Day and the Navy Birthday? Both occur in the month of October, and both celebrate the men and women of the United States Navy, past and present. The Navy celebrates its birthday officially on October 13, and Navy Day was established to be observed on October 27.
This year Navy Day will be on Wednesday, October 27, 2021.
There are plenty of differences between the two, starting with the fact that the Navy Birthday is recognized on the anniversary of the historic formation of the Continental Navy during the American Revolution. Navy Day was originally chosen to coincide with the birthday of President Theodore Roosevelt.
Which Came First?
Navy Day is actually the older observance, in terms of when it was created and officially recognized as it is today. The “official” observation of the Navy birthday was initiated by Admiral Elmo Zumwalt in 1972, but Navy Day was sponsored by the Navy League of New York in 1922.
While both holidays recognize the service and sacrifices of those in uniform, Navy Day is specifically about military service, where the Navy birthday celebrates the origins and history of the U.S. Navy.
Navy Day isn’t unique to the American military. Many countries all over the world celebrate their own versions at different dates and with different traditions. Russia, Turkey, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, India, Croatia, Mexico and many other nations all hold their own observations.
How Navy Day Is Observed In The United States
Much of what passes for a celebration of Navy Day in modern times doesn’t really happen specifically on October 27th. Even the Navy League, which initiated the holiday back in 1922, doesn’t have much in the way of a specific reference to it on events calendars on its official site. But that doesn’t mean that the Navy isn’t given the appropriate amount of respect its due by the military, its supporters, and taxpayers with a formal recognition day (see below).
Is Navy Day An Official Government Holiday?
Navy Day isn’t observed in quite the same manner as a federal holiday. There are no official closures, retreat ceremonies at military cemeteries, or other planned activities that mark occasions such as POW/MIA Day or Memorial Day.
Officially, Armed Forces Day replaced Navy Day in 1949 by order of the first Secretary of Defense, Louis A. Johnson, likely done to recognize those in uniform regardless of service affiliation, but Navy Day may still be observed at the base level and in local communities keen to recognize the service of current and former sailors.
These observances may include unit-sponsored events, such as fun runs, and fundraising activities for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society or other worthy causes. Military orderly rooms, Military Family Support Centers, and Commander’s Access channels will carry news of these events as they are scheduled locally either in the form of a Navy Day event or as part of Armed Forces Day.
A quick search on the Internet reveals that “Navy Day” events occur many times during the year at civilian establishments such as professional sports arenas, college campuses, even the Alamo in land-locked San Antonio, Texas features a Navy Day as part of a larger event known as Fiesta San Antonio.
Some organizations hold Navy Day events close to, but not exactly on the official Navy Day date. One such event in Philadelphia is specifically named the Navy Day Regatta, held in October of each year and hosted by St Joseph’s University.
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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