Memorial Day falls on the final Monday of May every year and generally marks the start of summer. It is celebrated with camping, picnics, parades and family cook-outs. But the significance of Memorial Day, previously known as Decoration Day after the civil war, is to remember and honor the men and women who died while in military services.
Sequester cuts have left a specific impact on this year’s Memorial holiday.
According to a report published in The Hill, the AAA auto club predicts reduced travel by Americans this holiday due to the economy and automatic sequester cuts that took place earlier this year, which are gradually rippling through economic projections.
“AAA is forecasting Memorial Day travel to be slightly lower this year due to an to an up and down economy, the impact of the end of the payroll tax holiday on working families and a 30-year low in the percentage of working age people in the workforce,” said President Robert Darbelnet in a statement. “Additionally, economic growth in the first quarter was strong, but impacts of the sequester are now beginning to be felt resulting in reduced economic growth expectations. These and other variables are expected to result in few travelers this holiday. ”
AAA predicted that “35.4 million Americans will travel to destinations that are more than 50 miles from their home, down from 35.1 million last year,” with one of the most influential factors being an 8 percent drop in air travel.
In addition, Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery, which is one of the most exclusive burial places in America where military soldiers and other dignitaries are buried, has been feeling the sequester pinch as long-term expansion plans have faced budget reductions so far and will likely be whittled away even more over the coming years.
The Arlington Millennium Project would expand and reconstruct the cemetery to make room for more soldiers. Sequester cuts will reduce the expansion project by 3000 spaces. It is currently the resting place of over 400,000 souls.
A report in Daily Finance claimed that “Ultimately, the problem comes down to visibility. America’s soldiers and their families quietly serve, allowing the military to move them around the country — and the world — to where they’re most needed. They don’t make a lot of money, but part of the implied deal is that, if they are injured or killed, the military will take care of them and their families. That sacrifice is a large part of what Memorial Day was designed to honor.”
Headline grabbers like TSA cuts get the most attention, but cuts to VA programs or, in this case expansion of the Arlington National Cemetery, happen mostly off the main stream radar as politicians continue to wrangle over every legislative issue in the most dysfunctional Congress in US history.
President Obama will pay his respects at Arlington later today.