Armed Forces Day 2019. BFBS graphic.
Armed Forces Day

Why Is Armed Forces Day Celebrated And Do The Public Want To Thank The Services?

We asked a random sample of the public what they thought of Armed Forces Day, this is what they said

Armed Forces Day 2019. BFBS graphic.

Why is Armed Forces Day celebrated and do the civilian public think Britain’s military should be thanked for their service in a national show of support?

Members of the public who live in areas where there is a strong military presence, such as garrison towns, near bases or naval ports might be familiar with the annual event which is a chance for people to show their support for the men and women who make up the Armed Forces community – from currently serving troops to Service families, veterans and cadets.

But how much do the public outside of those areas with a strong military connection know about Armed Forces Day and do they support the idea of thanking our military for serving their country?

We spoke with Warrant Officer Class 2, Melissa Shepherd, a member of the Honourable Artillery Company. She believes that as a country we could be doing more. She said:

"I think there is a great opportunity for us to look towards how the United States do things. 

"Our inspiration should be how our colleagues over the water do things and for us to aspire to support the Armed Forces as much as they do over there."

In America, for instance, many civilians feel strongly about honouring their veterans and serving US military, with public holidays to thank members of the American armed forces, although the 'Thank You For Your Service' trend receives a mixed response from members of the US military themselves.

There are three national days to show support: Armed Forces Day, Veterans Day and Memorial Day, and millions of people across the country are often eager to show their support of their military, with many displaying the American flag outside their homes, and scores of others taking to social media to post ‘Thank You For Your Service’ memes across the social platforms.

Veterans Day and Memorial Day are even Federal Holidays in the United States – meaning it is an authorised holiday recognised by the US government.

Russians are also known for their public shows of their military might, celebrating their equivalent of Armed Forces Day with what is called ‘Defender of the Fatherland Day’.

In a by-no-means-scientific litmus test of what the British public think of the UK’s Armed Forces Day, Forces Network decided to test the temperature of the Britain’s attitude to our national show of support for the day by picking one town, with little or no connection to the Armed Forces, at random, to ask people there what their view of the day was.

Watch below: Did they even know it existed? Or do they want to show their support for the Armed Forces?


Our random public questioning comes as a survey, commissioned by armed forces charity SSAFA for Armed Forces Day, revealed that more than a third of people in the UK, or 36 per cent, do not actively support the Armed Forces – with that figure rising to 48 per cent for younger people aged between 16 and 34.

The research also discovered that the lack of support appears to be linked to a widespread lack of awareness of who the Forces are and what they do.

More than 2,000 people took part in the survey that was conducted in May this year.

Forces Network turned up in Uxbridge, Buckinghamshire, to ask the public there what they knew of Armed Forces Day and what they thought of it.

Anonymous troops with Union Jack CREDIT MoD
Picture: MOD copyright

Uxbridge has some connection to the Armed Forces, as it was the base of RAF Uxbridge – best known as the headquarters of No. 11 Group RAF that was responsible for the aerial defence of London and South-East England during the Battle of Britain – but the base closed in March 2010, and as such there has been less of a military presence in the town.

There are many ways for people, communities and organisations across the country to show their support and get involved in Armed Forces Day in the UK, from attending an event or organising a local event or celebration.

But here, we asked the public in Uxbridge, as a random sample in a small corner of the country, what their take on Britain’s annual show of support for the Armed Forces.

Daniel - Pic BFBS
Daniel Yomans 22, Uxbridge High Street

One of the people we spoke with was 22-year-old, Daniel Yomans, his father had served in the British Army for more than 22 years.

The mechanic knew very little about Armed Forces Day, but was keen to show his support for those who sacrifice so much to serve their country.

Daniel said he would not be attending a parade this year, but he added: 

"It is about respecting the ones who are now serving and I will also pay my respects to the fallen.

"If I see any soldiers I talk them and I salute them, because not all of them make it back. But I definitely pay my respects, that is the least I can do if nothing else."

Andrew Day, 74, from West Drayton, did not know of any events taking place near by, but insisted that he would be watching the parade on TV and said:

“Armed Forces Day should be celebrated every year in commemoration for what they do for this country and the rest of the world.”

What echoed from majority of the people who stopped to talk to us, is that while they did not have have an understanding about Armed Forces Day or what it was about, they most definitely support the men and woman who have served or do currently serve their country. 

We also wanted to give our current serving Armed Forces a voice and to see what they thought about the big day. 

So, we headed out to the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst and we spoke with some regular and reserve forces to see how they think it should be done. 

Watch below: How do serving personnel think Armed Forces Day should be celebrated?

If you would like to know more, why not read ...ARMED FORCES DAY: What Is It And Why Do We Celebrate It?