The USO was created on February 4, 1941. And every February 4 we celebrate that anniversary as USO Day.
President Nixon proclaimed the first USO Day for February 4, 1971 in honor of its 30th anniversary.
USO stands for United Service Organizations, Inc. You’ll notice the “organizations” part is plural. That’s because it was created by uniting six civilian organizations under one parent, the USO. The individual organizations operate independently, but they have one home.
The organizations joined under the USO umbrella are:
The USO’s goal was and is to support U.S. Troops.
The USO was actually deactivated, with its facilities closed and the organization discharged honorably from service by President Harry S. Truman in 1947. Then the Korean War began and it was reactivated in 1951.
Many people are probably most familiar with the USO for the entertainment it brings to overseas troops. If you’re old enough, you may even associate USO shows most strongly with Bob Hope and the decades he spent entertaining the troops.
But it’s much more than that. There are USO centers around the world that act as troops’ home away from home. Many major airports have centers where troops can get information and even help with ironing out travel snafus.
Over the years, the USO has added new services and programs as the world and troops’ needs change. Care packages, international phone cards and more help the troops feel more connected to home from faraway stations.
The USO intends to continue its mission until “every one comes home.”
Scroll down for some ideas on celebrating this holiday.
No matter how you may feel about some of the military’s positions and missions, the men and women in uniform are doing their jobs. Just like we all are. And they deserve our support for putting themselves in harm’s way to protect our way of life.**
The USO is not part of the U.S. Government, although it does work with the department of defense.
It relies on volunteers and donations to achieve its mission.
So consider donating money or time to the cause.
You can also help spread the word. Most people have probably heard of the USO. But they may not realize all that it does. When they understand, they may want to help too.
And if you see a member of our armed services today (or any day), thank them.
** When we say they deserve our support, we are talking about the people on the ground doing their jobs. That’s not the same as blindly agreeing with the leadership and the missions they set. Questioning the leaders about missions you don’t agree with does not have to diminish your support of the people following the orders. They are two separate things.
After all, the troops are not protecting only the people whose values they agree with. They’re protecting us all. And we can support them all, even if we don’t always agree with the mission.