NDU Special Observances Calendar

The Department of Defense (DOD) celebrates eight ethnic observances annually in support of Joint Congressional Resolution, Presidential Proclamation, and achievements of all groups that comprise the society of the United States. Since 1968, the Department of Defense (DOD) has supported ethnic observances through the development of local programs of recognition and many diverse activities. Activities are designed to enhance cross-cultural awareness and promote harmony among all military members, their families, and the civilian work force. These activities are extensions of the equal opportunity education and training objectives. They are set aside to recognize the achievements and contributions made by members of specific minority groups, women, and individuals with disability in our society. The focus of the observance should be directed towards encouraging interaction and not just recognition. For local NDU observances, see the JBMHH Calendar of Special Observances 2021 Events (in-person events may be cancelled due to COVID).








2021 Theme / Link to Source

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday

18 January 2021

Public Law 98-144

The King Center

The Urgency of Creating the Beloved Community

National African American/Black History Month

1-28 February 2021

Public Law 99-244

Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)

The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity

Women’s History Month

1-31 March 2021

Public Law 100-9

National Women’s History Alliance

Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

1-30 April 2021

DoD Directive 6495.01

Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO)

Protecting Our People Protects Our Mission

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Days of Remembrance

8 April 2021

4-11 April 2021

Public Law 96-388

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


Lessons from the Holocaust: Acknowledge, Preserve and Honor

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

1-31 May 2021

Title 36, U.S. Code, Section 102

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center 

Advancing Leaders through Purpose-driven Service

Also see the USG's official Asian Pacific Heritage Month website

Pride Month



1-30 June 2021

Presidential proclamation (historically published the beginning of June)

DoD Pride

DoD event tentatively scheduled for 9 June. Watch https://dodpride.org/pride-events for further announcements.

Women’s Equality Day



26 August 2021

Joint Resolution of Congress, 1971 and Presidential Proclamation

National Women’s History Alliance

Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced

National Hispanic Heritage Month



15 September-14 October 2021

Title 36, U.S. Code, Section 126

National Council of Hispanic Employment Program Managers

Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope

National Disability Employment Awareness Month



1-31 October 2021

Title 36, U.S. Code, Section 121

Department of Labor

America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion 

National American Indian Heritage Month



1-30 November 2021

Public Law 102-188, Executive Order 13270 and Presidential Proclamation

Society of American Indian Government Employees (SAIGE)

Grounded in Tradition, Resilient in Spirit 

Also see this video sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior.


PLEASE NOTE: NDU lists only observances established by law, bill, or resolution of Congress or DoD Directive or Instruction. Organizations are reminded that special observances are conducted to recognize the continuous achievements of all Americans to American culture and to increase awareness, mutual respect, and understanding. They are designed to enhance cross-cultural and cross-gender awareness and promote harmony among all military members, their families, and the DOD civilian workforce. For more information about DoD special observance, please visit https://www.defenseculture.mil/