Each branch of the service had its own commemorative day. After the war, on August 31, 1949, the Secretary of Defense declared the third Saturday in May to be Armed Forces Day. This single day celebration stemmed from the unification of all branches of the service under the Department of Defense. President Truman declared the first Armed Forces day on May 20, 1950
Fairchild Air Force Base has an interesting history with Spokane. Citizens thought it so important to have military protection they donated parcels of land for the air field. Opening in 1942, Fairchild has been a dynamic presence for Spokane County. Combining the patriotism resulting from the victories in WWII and the partnership with Fairchild Air Force Base, the Lilac Festival was knit with Armed Forces Day.
The Torchlight Parade
During the 1950s the Spokane Lilac Festival was a weeklong affair that included flower shows, a children’s parade and a day parade. By the 1960s the week started with the Junior Lilac Parade on Saturday, the Torchlight Parade on Thursday night and the Grand Parade on Saturday. Eventually, The Junior Lilac Parade stayed with the Chamber of Commerce and the Spokane Lilac Festival Association broke away. In the 1970s the Festival combined the Torchlight Parade with the Grand Parade, melding it into the nation’s largest Torchlight Parade on Armed Forces Day.