Navy Day vs. Navy Birthday: What’s the difference?

10/16/2020

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October is a significant month for the United States Navy, which is honored and recognized in two different ways on two different days: Navy Birthday and Navy Day. If you’re not a current or former member of the Navy, you may wonder when each occurs – and more importantly, how they differ.

During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress received word that a British fleet was on its way. Congress authorized the creation of the Continental Navy on Oct. 13, 1775, initially outfitting and sending two armed ships to find munitions ships that were supporting the British Army in America. Over the course of the war, the Continental Navy grew to more than 50 ships, including 20 warships.

This creation of the precursor to the current U.S. Navy is celebrated every year on Oct. 13. The Navy Birthday celebration is primarily an internal recognition of today’s active forces and reservists, along with retirees, with a focus on our Navy’s origins and impressive history, along with its heritage of professionalism and pride.

Navy Day, observed on Oct. 27, honors the Navy in a different context. Established in 1922, its date was chosen to coincide with President Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday. That’s because Roosevelt personally drove the evolution of the Navy to become the premier fighting force we know today, spending time as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy and pushing them to pursue naval aviation. Thanks to his personal interest in this fighting force, our Navy has become one of the largest and most powerful in the world.

You might have noticed that Navy Day is not listed on your calendar. That’s because it’s not an official federal holiday, with closures and ceremonies. What is observed officially is Armed Forces Day, which replaced Navy Day in 1949. However, on Navy bases across the country and in nearby communities, Navy Day is often observed locally to honor the service of its past and present members. It’s a point of pride – and understandably so.

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