Memorial Day 2011

Never mind what the calendar indicates, for Americans, summer begins with the Memorial Day weekend.
And from all indications, Americans are ready to break out after almost two years of recession and clipped wings. AAA forecasts almost 35 million will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday weekend.
And that’s a slight increase of 0,2 percent over last year, despite gas prices that are 1 dollar more per gallon than last year.
The tug to get away is universal — who doesn’t like to explore new places, feel sand between their toes?
It’s important to remember, however, that while the road is alluring, it can also be dangerous. The National Safety Council estimates that 406 people who left on a holiday won’t make it home alive.
This year, especially, will require defensive driving. There’s a lot of high water along the Mississippi. Also, as the events of Joplin and Tuscaloosa point out, travelers need to pay close attention to the weather along their way.
Louisiana State Police will be out in full force patrolling the roadways to ensure that everyone is driving with due care and offering assistance to motorists in need. Troopers will focus much of their attention on aggressive drivers, speeders, impaired drivers, and those who do not wear their seat belts or properly restrain children. Last year, 59 percent of all Louisiana residents killed in a crash were not properly restrained. State police warn there is a trend of increased alcohol consumption during holiday weekends, and too many impaired drivers.

Memorial Day 2011
Memorial Day flag.

If you are anything like me, after this excruciatingly long, cold and snowy winter, you’ll be celebrating the Memorial Day weekend on several levels.
Often dubbed ‘the unofficial start of summer,’ Memorial Day weekend means barbecues, friends, family, shorts, T-shirts and flip flops.
And, with any luck, nice weather.
As we emerge from our winter cocoons, blinking and squinting, it is imperative to remember those to which we owe this weekend, and to take some time to acknowledge what Memorial Day really means.
Originally called Decoration Day because of the practice of decorating soldier’s graves with flowers, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service to our country.
It was first widely observed on May 30 (1868) to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. In 1971 – Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday of May.

Many events are planned this Memorial Day weekend to honor those who have served or are serving in the armed forces. Here are some area highlights today:
1 – Celebrate Commemorate Memorial Day. Entertainment, re-enactments, food and activities. Various times. Waterloo, Seneca County. Canandaigua V.A. Medical Center’s Memorial Day Observance: The program features the Missing Man Table Ceremony with the Grand Lodge New York State Masonic Military Outreach Program, and the Meaning of the Folds of the Flag and Veteran Flag with the Grand Lodge of New York State Masonic War Veterans. 2 p.m. . Building 5 Auditorium at the Canandaigua V.A. Medical Center, 400 Fort Hill Ave. Free. (585) 394-2000 or
2 – Salute the Troops. Casa Larga is thanking the armed forces with a free tour and tasting this week. Tours are at 11 a.m.; 1 and 3 p.m. . Casa Larga Vineyards, 2287 Turk Hill Road, Perinton. (585) 223-4210 or
3 – Memorial Ceremony. The Rochester Processing and Distribution Center is hosting the ceremony. The event will include a wreath ceremony in recognition of those who died in service to our country. Meet at the flagpole in front of the post office. Participants will include Rhonda Benton, manager, USPS Rochester Plant; Josh Jenson, aide to state Sen. Joseph Robach; Keith Robinson, director of the state Department of Veteran Affairs; Lt. Col. Freeman, U.S. Army; and Staff Sgt. Dadson, U.S. Army. 3 p.m. . Main Post Office, 1335 Jefferson Road, Henrietta. Free.

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