From Woody's Couch

Our Playbook on OSU History

Category: Holidays

Observing National Armed Forces Day

Today is National Armed Forces Day. National Armed Forces Day was first created in 1949 by then Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson. Rather than maintaining three separate holidays for each of the branches of the military, Johnson decided to create a single holiday honoring the entire military. Although the first Armed Forces Day was in 1950, it was not made into an official Federal holiday until President John F. Kennedy in 1962.[1]

School of Military Aeronautics Squadron F in
August of 1917.

Here at the Ohio State University, we have a longstanding history of involvement with and support of the United States Military. The Morrill Act (1862) gave states script for federal land which the states could then sell for purposes of creating an endowment to fund an agricultural and mechanical college.[2] This act stated that the newly constructed school would be used to train students in the sciences of agriculture, mechanical arts, and military tactics.[3] The Department of Military Science and Tactics was created several years after the Ohio Agricultural, Military, and Mechanical College (the predecessor of today’s Ohio State University) and was staffed by active military personnel from the United States Army.[4]

The program continued to grow and transform in the twentieth century. Four important figures at the Ohio State University, including University President William Oxley Thompson, played crucial roles in the drafting of the National Defense Act, which established the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) in 1916. President Thompson was also responsible for the creation of the School of Military Aeronautics which would train students in the developing field of aircraft.[5] Students from both programs could be found participation in the numerous conflicts of the twentieth century.

Ohio State University students shooting at the rifle
range in 1918.

More information and resources about the Ohio State University’s role in the United States Military and the university’s founding can be found at the Ohio State University Archives. Manuscripts, documents, photographs, and other resources can be found there and are open to the public.

Written by John Hooton

[1] “Armed Forces Day,” National Day Calendar, accessed May 13, 2017. https://www.nationaldaycalendar.com/national-armed-forces-day-third-saturday-in-may/

[2] “Born in Adversity,” the Ohio State University Archives, accessed May 13, 2017. https://library.osu.edu/projects/founding/index.html

[3] Jack L. Gumbert, Forward to the Ohio State University Army ROTC History presentation, April 16, 2003, manuscript, from the Ohio State University Archives.

[4] Gumbert, Ohio State University ROTC History.

[5] Gumbert, Ohio State University ROTC History.

From founding, OSU community celebrated Thanksgiving with a day’s respite

The first faculty of the University, 1873

The first faculty of the University, 1873

On Friday, November 21, 1873, just over two months after the University first opened its doors, the faculty were talking about taking a vacation.

In this particular case, it made sense: Not even a week later, Thanksgiving would be celebrated, so they needed to decide whether classes would be held that Friday. The faculty minutes for that date – the group’s 10th meeting ever – say “that Thursday Nov. 29 (Thanksgiving day) and the Friday following be allowed as holiday by the college, and that all college exercises be disbanded.” It was the only item of business for that meeting.

During World War II, Thanksgiving Day was a holiday for only civilians on campus. All Army and Navy-related classes were still in session on Thanksgiving. At that time, the Commencement ceremony for Autumn Quarter fell in early December, so classes on the Friday after Thanksgiving were considered a must.

In 1945, after the war was over, it was decided that no classes would be held from the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving until the following Monday – a first since before the war – to allow students to travel home for the holiday. In 1946 University faculty and staff were given both Thanksgiving Day and the following Friday off again in recognition for all of the overtime hours they had put in throughout the quarter with the record number of students enrolled that year.

President Bevis, 1948

President Bevis, 1948

In 1947 President Bevis ordered classes to be held the Friday after Thanksgiving, with the tradeoff that employees would get Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, as well as the following weekend off. He stated that the University’s payroll deadlines, as well as orientation and fee payment deadlines necessitated the working Friday.

Classes were again eliminated for the Friday off as early as 1957, according to the Lantern, although OSU employees still had to show up to work. In the mid-1970s, during the nationwide energy crisis, the academic calendar was changed so that finals were completed by Thanksgiving. University employees still had to work the day after the holiday. By the mid-1980s, however, University classes were cancelled and University offices were closed both days.

–Filed by C.N.