From its post-Civil War origins as a day when soldiers’ graves would be decorated, Memorial Day occurs during a season of rebirth — in national parks and in hometowns across the country.
“Though it is a solemn occasion, Memorial Day also reminds us of our good fortune,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “It honors not only our fallen warriors, but the powerful conviction to which this nation owes so much. On this Memorial Day, we should be both inspired and grateful, and though it is a single day in a year of hundreds, its significance endures throughout time.”
Memorial Day is also the unofficial start of summer in America. It begins the busiest part of the year at the 394 national parks, monuments, memorials and historic and cultural sites that make up the National Park System. More than 280 million people visited national parks last year.
Jarvis said, “Memorial Day reminds us that people will rise to extremely demanding occasions, that standing up for our principles sometimes exacts the ultimate price, and that there are those who will risk paying it for a larger good.
“As you enjoy the coming weekend, and the rest of the summer travel season, please drive safely,” Jarvis said. “Build some extra time into your travel plan. You may be traveling down unfamiliar roads so please slow down, stay off the phone, be watchful for other motorists and enjoy the trip. It’s just the first part of your national park vacation. If you’re 30 minutes or half a day ‘off schedule’ don’t worry. We’ll be here when you arrive.”
There’s a bonus for national park visitors on June 21, free admission to all national parks.
For a list of summer activities in national parks, visit NPS online at http://www.nps.gov.