There are people during the course of our lives that we rely on to nurture us, educate us, care for our health and protect and fight for our country. May is the month that celebrates all of them. It includes Mother’s Day, Teacher Appreciation Week, National Nurses Week and Armed Forces Appreciation Week. These amazing professionals deserve to be celebrated this month.

Armed Forces Appreciation

The purpose of the armed forces of the United States, is to protect the nation’s citizens and territories from threats. Historically, without having a military the United States wouldn’t exist. It was an organized revolutionary army that earned us our freedom from Great Britain.

The month of May is characterized by six national observances which highlight the contributions of those who have served. It begins on May 1st with Loyalty Day which is a day set aside for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States, and to reflect on the proud heritage of our American freedom. It is followed by Public Service Recognition Week which is observed the first full week in May. This week is set aside to honor the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees and ensure that our government is the best in the world. Victory in Europe Day, aka V.E.-Day, falls on May 8th and commemorates May 8th, 1945, the day when Germans throughout Europe unconditionally surrendered to the Allies. This day marked the end of World War II in Europe. Military Spouses Appreciation Day occurs on the Friday before Mother’s Day to honor military spouses with appropriate ceremonies and activities. It recognizes the important role our military families play in keeping our armed forces strong and our country safe. Armed Forces Day is celebrated the third Saturday in May annually. It is a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country. This day honors everyone serving in the U.S. Military branches; Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and the Navy. The month-long observance wraps up with Memorial Day observed on the last Monday in May and is a remembrance of our veterans. It commemorates the men and women who died while in military service. In the words of President John K. Kennedy, “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.”

Teacher Appreciation Week

Every year, the world gets together to celebrate the individuals who help shape our planet’s future: Teachers. Teacher Appreciation Week is a time for us to #ThankATeacher and reflect on the importance good teachers make on students. Congress declared March 7, 1980 as National Teacher Day for that year only. The National Education Association and its affiliates continued to observe Teacher Day on the first Tuesday in March until 1985, when the National PTA established Teacher Appreciation Week in the first full week of May. Most of us can clearly recall the teacher(s) who made a difference in our lives, whether it was to build up our confidence, direct us toward the enjoyment of reading or a subject like math or science, or helped us to focus on learning. Many families recognize teachers by sending a heartfelt card, a favorite snack, a gift or offering some time to volunteer to help them out. In the words of Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2014, and advocate for student’s rights in her home town of Swat, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”

National Nurses Week

National Nurses Week is celebrated annually from May 6, also known as National Nurses Day, through May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. It is a national week to celebrate and elevate the nursing profession. Making a difference in a patient’s health is the ultimate reward for nursing staff and travel nurses, but being appreciated is important, too. In fact, studies have shown that patient satisfaction is related to nurse satisfaction, so there are benefits for both parties if a nurse feels appreciated. When nurses pour their heart and soul into their nursing job, it is rewarding for them to hear positive feedback from time to time. In fact, nurses who receive notes of encouragement or thanks from a patient are very blessed indeed and will often treasure those acts of kindness for years to come. So, take the time during this special week, as well as all the time, to acknowledge the nurses you know for their hard work and dedication. A verbal thank you or a handwritten note thanking them for being a comfort to patient and family would be a meaningful lift to their busy day.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhoodmaternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. The modern Mother’s day began in the United States at the initiative of Anna Jarvis in the early 20th century. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother for her work as a peace activist who cared for wounded soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, and to set aside a day to honor all mothers. Anna believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.” Owing to the efforts of Anna Jarvis, by 1911 all U.S. states observed the holiday which is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Many people celebrate their love by giving gifts, cards, flowers, candy, a meal in a restaurant or other treats to their mother and mother figures, including grandmothers, great-grandmothers, stepmothers, and foster mothers. Even back in 1920, Ms. Jarvis was upset about how commercialized Mother’s Day had become, and expressed that people should honor their mothers through handwritten letters expressing their love and gratitude instead of buying gifts and pre-made cards. Regardless of how we choose to show our love and admiration to mothers, the important point is that we do so. In the words of Rudyard Kipling, “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.”

The Rewards of Showing Appreciation

There is power in showing appreciation. When a person takes the time to express their heart-felt appreciation to people who make a difference in their lives, it has a positive effect on both parties. It not only boosts the spirit, passion, and purpose of those caregivers by giving them energy and motivation to continue and work harder, but also builds our self-confidence, self-esteem and our entire self-image for having done so. Make a true effort this month and every month to appreciate the people who care for you through their hard work and dedication.

written by Tonia DeCosimo