On this Memorial Day weekend, as the Veterans Affairs scandal continues to roil Washington, millions of Americans are paying tribute to those who served and fought for this country and who gave their lives for the enduring freedom of the United States.
Americans young and old and of all walks of life are also kicking back and attending parades, parties, barbecues and beach get-togethers. Memorial Day is traditionally considered the kickoff to the summer and tourism season.
Even as we enjoy the warm temperatures across the country and the extra time with family and friends, though, we also remember our fallen service members, including the 4,488 who have died in Iraq, according to the Defense Department, and the 1,973 who lost their lives in Afghanistan.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the other key numbers associated with this iconic American holiday.
The number of Americans expected to travel 50 miles or more this holiday weekend, a 1.5 percent jump over the 35.5 million who journeyed at this time last year, according to AAA Travel. This would be the largest number of people traveling during the holiday weekend in nearly 10 years, with the increase fueled in part by an improving job market and a rise in disposable income.
The number of Americans who are driving to their destinations this holiday weekend. That’s another jump over last year, when 31.4 million of us were behind the wheel.
The number of holiday air travelers expected this weekend, a 2.4 percent increase over last year.
The number of Americans getting around by other modes of transportation, including trains, buses and cruise ships, for a 6.5 percent rise over last year.
$3.63 per gallon
Average price of gas nationwide this holiday weekend, roughly the same or a little less than last year’s average. AAA cautions, however, that “unexpected developments such as refinery problems or international events” may mean higher costs.
The amount airfares have jumped this year over 2013. Mid-range hotels are up 2 percent, car rentals 1 percent.
The average amount holiday travelers are expected to pay per night for lodging this year (compared to last year’s $166 per night).
Weekend daily car rental rates this holiday weekend, just 1 percent higher than in 2013.
The number of times President Obama has visited Afghanistan, including this Memorial Day weekend’s surprise trip. He addressed American troops at Bagram, telling them, “I'm here on a single mission and that is to thank you for your extraordinary service.” The president also said during his weekly radio address, “The United States will ensure that veterans will get the care they earned while in service to the nation.”
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