A lot of times the legislature doesn’t even do anything. Instead, the National Association of Sweatpants Manufacturers decide that November 3 is National Sweatpants Day, they send out news releases to media that are always looking for some trivia to mention and BAM there’s a Sweatpants section in your local greeting card rack.
At its most basic it is a way of focusing attention on a topic. Cancer of the XYZ kills people every day of the year. Those fighting for its eradication can shout loud every day of the year. A National Day allows some of that energy to be focused, to put on events that would garner more attention, have a fundraiser that has some chance of a radio interview and a brief mention in the newspapers.
Especially for charitable causes and ones that rely on volunteer effort, its a very sensible way of maximising attention. It can programmed in advance, press-kits can be collated, trivial initiatives can be aggregated much better.
One that get overlooked every year is National Maritime Day to honor those who have served and die in the Merchant Marine. The service with the highest loss rate of WWII. The service that was completely ignored until 1988 when because of a law suit the survivors were granted veteran’s status.
As I noted in a previous thread, there’s a book called “Chase’s Calendar of Events” that has a bunch of these made-up days. Not sure if it’s the same as the National Day Calendar website that was mentioned by Telemark and Mean Mister Mustard.
Legally, I suppose it would depend entirely on how the Such-and-Such Day was passed by the state legislature or Congress. Federally, they’re often adopted through simple or concurrent resolutions, which are more limited in effect than bills and usually simply express the opinion of one or both chambers on some topic. But there’s no reason why Congress or a state legislature couldn’t pass a bill simultaneously recognizing Such-and-Such Day and ordering that a proclamation be printed/coin be struck/epic power ballad be written to commemorate the many contributions of Such-and-Such to the American way of life.
Over here, such things can be either charitable/worthy cause or trade/commercial promotions - legislation doesn’t come into it: though national or local government and/or wider public services might join in and organise some special event or campaign. Currently it’s Pride Month.
I can’t help but drag this into the conversation since it’s sort of relevant
Surely the competitor is every other sort of job potential recruits could be applying to, rather than some putative alternative military? UK armed forces have occasional advertising campaigns - if you don’t have conscription, how else do they get good recruits?
(Though come to think of it, army, air force, navy, etc., are in this context competing militaries)
Advertising professional here, whose agency once pitched the Army account. That advertising is not about building raw awareness that “yes, we do still have an army.” The audience knows that piece of information.
It’s about convincing young people – particularly those who aren’t sure what to do after high school – that the Army (or Navy, or Marines, etc.) might be a good choice for them, and encouraging them to learn more (going to the website, talking to a recruiter, etc.)
The “competition” isn’t some other country’s military, it’s other options for what to do after high school: go to college, get a non-military job, etc.