By: Josh @rawtrails
Tilting your head to the sky, you close your eyes. The sunshine warms your face. A warm breeze ruffles the leaves of the massive trees that shade the park. You hear sounds of children playing, dog collars jingling and a flock of ducks chattering noisily on the pond. Freshly cut grass, new blooms, and the savory smell of hamburgers sizzling on the grill waft under your nose. Summer is here. It’s Memorial Day!
With Memorial Day 2020 comes the unofficial start of summer, as well as the first major holiday since COVID-19/quarantine heavy restrictions have been lifted. It seems everyone is excited to break the shackles of being home-bound, yet hesitant and unsure of just how to celebrate. Since its inception in 1868, originally known as Decoration Day, people have spent the day honoring our military’s fallen soldiers with visitations to cemeteries or war memorials, and attending parades and large family gatherings. This year, with social distancing and group size restrictions, Memorial Day－observed on the last Monday in May－is going to look a little different.
Cemeteries and memorials will be open to the public so families can gather to honor those who have given their lives for our freedom, keeping in mind the CDC’s guidelines for physical distancing. Our brothers and sisters who have made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us is the “why” behind this holiday, so making sure we pay tribute in some way is immensely important. Whether it be placing flowers on a gravesite, hanging old glory with pride on your front porch, or by simply including a word of thanks when saying grace at the start of your family barbecue, there are plenty of ways to show your respects.
When it comes to parades or large holiday gatherings, you’ll find there won’t be anything to fulfill that typical traditional craving, but recreating them on a smaller scale is a great alternative! Have a small neighborhood parade with bicycles decorated in reds, whites and blues, run a lemonade or popsicle stand, or host a small fireside sing-along with just your close friends to belt out “God Bless the U.S.A”.
What I believe we will be seeing the most of this year is that, more than ever, people are itching to leave the confines of their home office and/or home school to get out and adventure! And what better way to appreciate the freedoms we’ve been provided than to spend the 3-day weekend basking in the beauty that we are all free to explore! So pull that boat out of storage, grab your fishing pole, your medical mask and hand sani, dust off that tent and hit the road! But before you go, be sure to research the county and state regulations for the area you will be visiting to check for closures, alerts, or special rules set in place during this time. Depending on the risk in the area, some recreational sites will be closed, some will be open with restrictions, and some may not have any, except for nationwide social distancing and cleanliness practices.
To play it safe, consider steering clear of highly populated areas and go to your secret fishing hole, set up a tent in your backyard, or hit that hike you’ve been meaning to do that’s just a stone’s throw away. Or beat that summer heat by throwing an intimate BBQ pool party or strapping that kayak and paddle board to the roof of your car and head to the nearest lake. Take care that you are prepared for your activities with plenty of food (don’t forget the s’mores!), water, and supplies. Use good safety practices like always wearing your life preserver, downloading and researching maps of any new territory you’ll be exploring, and lathering on that sunblock.
Whatever you end up doing this unprecedented Memorial Day, spend it with those you love creating memories! And as you bite into that thick slice of sweet watermelon, with your family around you, and nature’s beauty at your fingertips, savor that freedom and remember our heroes.
Happy Memorial Day!
About the Author:
Josh (@rawtrails) is an avid outdoorsman that lives for the weekend. His youthful spirit is ignited by exploring new terrain wherever he goes. Most weekends are filled with canyoneering expeditions throughout the Colorado Plateau, but he loves the logistics of piecing together trips involving multiple activities (backpacking, pack rafting, etc) to access remote locations deep in the backcountry.