Armed Forces Day – Romania

October 25

“Over the centuries you will be remembered and praised, you, the officers and soldiers who have freed Transylvania.”

–General Gheorghe Avramescu, October 29, 1944

On this day in 1944 Romanian troops liberated Carei, the last German-occupied city in Romania. It is also the birthday of Romania’s last king, Michael I. (Pre-emptive answer: No, I don’t know why the there is a “I” if there won’t be a second.)

King Michael, or Mihai, became heir apparent of Romania at age 4 after his father Crown Prince Carol II abandoned his claim to the throne to elope with his mistress. When his grandfather, King Ferdinand died, the 6 year-old boy became king.

However in 1930, Carol II returned to the throne, becoming perhaps the only European king to have succeeded his own son.

In 1940, Carol II refused to go along with pro-Nazi Romanian leaders. He was forced to abdicate the throne for his son, 18 year-old Michael, who was expected to rule as a puppet monarch for a fascist Romanian government allied with Hitler.

There are conflicting stories of Michael’s motivations for turning against Germany in 1944. Some portray him as a hero whose daring fight against fascist leaders hastened the Nazi defeat, thus saving tens of thousands of lives. Others claim he was a pragmatist who had no choice but to switch once it became clear the Soviets were winning.

According to future Soviet leader Nikita Khurshchev…

In 1944, as we approached Bessarabia and fighting broke out on its territory, and then as we approached the borders of Romania itself, it became evident that the pointer on the scale had tipped strongly in the direction of victory for our side…Then a coup occurred in Romania. The young King Michael took part it it…In Romania a situation took shape in which the sympathies of the people moved to the left, the authority of the Communist Party rose, and the king decided the Communists should participate in the new government that was being formed…The question of whether Romania would take the socialist path did not come up at the time.”

–Memoirs of Nikita Khruschchev

The U.S. awarded King Michael the Legion of Merit for his bravery, and the Soviets awarded him the Order of Victory. But proof that no good deed goes unpunished, the Romanian Communist government abolished the monarchy in January 1948 and forced Michael to leave the country. According to Khrushchev, Michael was told, “he could take everything with him that he considered necessary, but he had to leave his kingdom.”

In exile, he married Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma with whom he raised 5 daughters in Switzerland. The former king worked for an aircraft company training European pilots to fly with American instruments.

The former king once said:

“Though many people think that not to be allowed back into your country is easier to bear than not to be allowed out of it, this is not true. The feeling of powerlessness and loss of liberty is associated with both.

Michael of Romania: The King and the Country

King Michael was invited to return briefly to Romania in 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

He is one of the last surviving heads of state from World War II.

October 25: Romanian Armed Forces Day

A Survivor: Romania’s Lucky Enough King

Memoirs of Nikita Khrushchev

Romanian Flag Day

Armed Forces Day – U.S.

3rd Saturday in May
(May 21, 2011)

“Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America’s defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, towards the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.”

–President Harry Truman, Presidential Proclamation of February 27, 1950

In addition to creating the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Act reorganized the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps within a unified Department of Defense. (UFO-conspiracy theorists point out that Congress passed this classified Act just one month after the Roswell debacle of 1947. Coincidence?…Yes.) The purpose of the reorganization was to better identify and respond to “transnational threats” defined as “any transnational activity (including international terrorism, narcotics trafficking, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the delivery systems for such weapons, and organized crime) that threatens the national security of the United States.”

Armed Forces Day was meant to replace the separate Army, Navy, and Marine Corps Days, although the Marines continue to observe Marine Corps Day each November 10. Armed Forces Day, the third Saturday in May, serves a dual purpose. It is partly for the country to pay homage to the men and women in the armed services. But it is also a ‘facetime’ opportunity–for the military to interact with and educate the public in an informal setting about the Armed Forces.

The city of Torrance has hosted the Armed Services Day Parade every year for nearly 50 years. Before and after the parade, spectators get a chance sit in Air Force helicopters, Coast Guard boats, Army trucks, and other military vehicles, while exhibits show the more scientific side of the Armed Forces, including geological, geographical, and zoological studies.

2008 marked the 100th anniversary of U.S. Army Reserve, which began in 1908 as the Medical Reserve Corps. The original Corps consisted of 160 doctors who could be called upon to serve their country at a moment’s notice in times of war. Ten years later at the end of World War I the Army Reserve numbered over 160,000 soldiers on active duty.

“Armed Forces Day, above all, honors the dedicated individuals who wear the uniforms of their country. Each serviceman, wherever he may be, whatever his task, contributes directly and importantly to the defense of the nation.”

General Earle G. Wheeler, Former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1967

“…Word to the Nation: Guard zealously your right to serve in the Armed Forces, for without them, there will be no other rights to guard.”

President John F. Kennedy, 1962

(Official AFD Poster, 1951)