On May 18, the United States celebrates the 63rd annual Armed Forces Day. Motorcycle rides and rallies to honor our men and women in the military take place all over the country.

Armed Forces Day replaced the separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. (The Marine Corps retained their separate day but support Armed Forces Day.) On August 31, 1949, the then only three-week old US Department of Defense announced that May 20, 1950 would constitute a day of celebration for all the branches of the military. The theme for that first Armed Forces Day was "Teamed for Defense."

Since then, celebrations of Armed Forces Day included parades, air shows and open houses. Of course, no celebration of America's men and women in uniform would be complete without a motorcycle rally. This year dozens of rides, including the 29-state strong National Armed Forces Freedom Ride, offer Americans with motorcycles a chance to show their patriotism and support of the men and women in uniform.

The National Armed Forces Freedom Ride started in 2010 with 23 states participating. Event founder and national coordinator Cathy Hopper said she chose Armed Forces Day because it honors all branches of the military and it's never been recognized as a national holiday.

Hopper started the multi-state ride through an online recruiting process of willing volunteers dedicated to the same reason and cause. Each state has its own Ride Coordinator who has the option to raise funds for a local or national military charity.

"There are no un-wounded warriors in any war and only those that stand in those boots know the tears that fall to those boots," Hopper said. "We may not always agree with the reasons of these wars but our mission is to honor, remember and gather this nation's people to stand with us with a salute of thanks."

Many countries around the world celebrate their own version of Armed Forces Day albeit on different days.

Other Rides Scheduled this Weekend

Remembering Our Heroes May 18: The second annual ride and poker run through north Georgia benefits the 6th Cavalry Museum. Ride begins at Fort Oglethorpe, FL.

Veterans Ride May 18: The seventh annual ride is police escorted and hosted by the Middlesex County MA Chapter 239 of STAR Touring and Riding Association.

A Ride To Remember May 18: This poker run in Oglesby, Il benefits the Capt. Thomas J. Heitmann Memorial Fund which is raising money to build a running track at St. Bede Academy.

Roar to Restore the Shore May 18: This 66-mile Hurricane Sandy relief run in Keyport, NJ takes you through some of the hardest hit parts of the Jersey Shore. Proceeds benefit victims.

Oregon Vintage Motorcyclists May 18-19: The 33rd annual Vintage Motorcycle Ride, Show and Swap Meet kicks things off at 12 p.m. Saturday at the Benton County Fairgrounds in Corvallis, OR. Vintage motorcycles are those rides at least 20 years old.

Ride for Kids May 19: Ride for Kids benefits the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and features numerous rides throughout the country during the year. This weekend kickstands are up in Alexandria, LA and Franklin, TN.

Aspen Cash May 16-19: The Aspen Cash rally in Ruidoso, NM is an AMA sanctioned National Touring Rally event and the West's biggest. It includes a $10,000 Poker Run. Pre-registration is closed but Gate Registration is available.

Chelan Sidecar Rally May 16-19: This four day event in Chelan, WA features a treasure hunt, old-fashion drive-in movie, a poker run and of course a Sidecar Show. Sidecar not required to ride!

Written By: AndrewT