Armed Forces Day (formerly Veterans’ Day) in the United Kingdom is an annual event celebrated in late June to commemorate the service of men and women in the British Armed Forces. Veterans’ Day was first observed in 2006. Although an official event, it is not a public holiday in the UK. The name was changed to Armed Forces Day in 2009. The four Armed Forces Days so far have been held on the last Saturday of June. Plans for a Veterans’ Day were announced in February 2006 by then-Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, who said the aim was to ensure the contribution of veterans was never forgotten. The day is marked across the UK by local ceremonies and the presentation of medals to living ex-servicemen and women.
The date of 27 June was chosen as it came the day after the anniversary of the first investiture of the Victoria Cross, in Hyde Park, London in 1857. Veterans’ Day was created as a permanent extension of Veterans’ Awareness Week first held in 2005. In the UK it followed the model of the Veterans Day holiday in the United States which honours all military veterans and is both a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states. On 25 June 2007, Jim Devine the Member of Parliament for Livingston, tabled a House of Commons Early Day Motion calling for the day to be a public holiday, stating “that this House recognises the outstanding contribution that veterans have made to the country; and believes that Veterans’ Day should be a national public holiday across the United Kingdom.”
Over the past few years there have been many events to mark the occasion including a Parade of Standards” which was led by The Central Band of the Royal Air Force, a National Veterans’ Day Service , A Badge Presentation ceremony, The Red Devils parachute display team performed an illuminated “night time parachute drop”, A traditional Drumhead Service took place . A Fly-overs by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the Red Arrows and Helicopter Formation. There have also been Arena displays including the Royal Marine Commando Display Team, and the Royal Marine Band as well as other Military displays representing all of the armed forces , Search and rescue Sea King rescue display on the water, The opportunity to go aboard HMS Kent ,Royal Navy destroyers HMS Gloucester and HMS Daring, an evening of stage performances featuring The Soldiers and Only Men Aloud and A firework finale