Memorial Day travel was back this year, with the Transportation Security Administration reporting that more than 1.65 million people were screened at United States airports on Sunday, and AAA officials estimating that more than 37 million Americans traveled for the holiday weekend.
Americans flocked to beaches, parks and sports stadiums to blow off steam, 12 months after lockdown restrictions put a dampener on the holiday weekend in 2020.
According to figures from the TSA, more than 1.65 million people passed through security checkpoints at American airports on Sunday, an increase of 368 percent over last year, when just 352,947 people traveled through American airports.
It was still down 35 percent from the number of people traveling at the same time in 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation.
Friday also saw a 499 percent increase in travelers at U.S. airports over the same time last year, TSA figures show, and Saturday saw a 497 percent increase.
Friday was the busiest travel day at airports since the start of the pandemic last year, records show.
The number of people passing through American security checkpoints this Memorial Day weekend was up nearly 500 percent from last year, according to TSA data
Venice Beach, California: Beach-goers laid out on the sand on Memorial Day
Santa Monica, California: Crowds walked down the boardwalk on Monday to enjoy their day off
Santa Monica, California: The beach at Santa Monica was crowded with people on Monday
Brooklyn, New York: A couple embraced in front of the Wonder Wheel at Coney Island
Venice Beach, California: The beach was filled with people trying to enjoy their Memorial Day
In addition, AAA officials predicted in the beginning of the weekend that more than 37 million Americans would travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend, an increase of 60 percent over last year, but 13 percent less than the number of people who traveled in 2019.
The nonprofit organization projected that more than nine in 10 of all Americans who decided to travel for Memorial Day would do so by car, as gas prices jump to their highest levels since the summer of 2019.
GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan tweeted on Sunday that gasoline demand increased nearly 7 percent over the week, and demand surged 9.6 percent above the average of the previous four Sundays.
Just two days before, he reported that demand broke a new record, making a ‘new post-COVID high,’ and last week, he said that demand has come ‘roaring back,’ which, he argued, inflated gas prices to its highest level in years.
AAA also cautioned its users that a higher demand for gas will likely contribute to fluctuations in pump prices throughout the holiday weekend.
Gas prices were surging above $3 per gallon nationwide for the first time in seven years, FOX Business reported, and as of May 31, the average price of gas nationwide was $3.04 per gallon, according to AAA.
Atlanta, Georgia: Fighter jets flew over Truist Park before a game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves on Monday
Venice Beach, California: Tourists walked around town to enjoy the warm weather
Venice Beach, California: The sun blared down on beach-goers, making for a warm day
Venice Beach, California: People sat on the grass, appreciating the warm day off
Santa Monica, California: People walked down the pier on Monday toward the beach
Many around the country decided to spend their day off at the beach, soaking in some sun after more than a year of coronavirus lockdown protocols, while others took part in local ceremonies to remember those who were killed in action.
Volunteers in Boston placed 37,000 small flags on Boston Common to symbolize all the Massachusetts soldiers who have died in battle since the American Revolution, and in Kansas City, Missouri, crowds watched hot air balloons take off from the National World War I Museum and Memorial.
On Long Island in New York, crowds gathered at Jones Beach to watch United States Air Force pilots performing stunts and racing overhead on Monday, after the air show was rained out during the weekend.
And in Santa Monica, Californians flocked to the beach and boardwalk to take in some sun on their day off after more than a year cooped up inside during the coronavirus lockdown.
Brooklyn, New York: People enjoyed the day at Coney Island on Memorial Day
Brooklyn, New York: People walked down the boardwalk at Coney Island as bands played
Wantagh, New York: A Golden Knights Army Parachuter (left) descended on the beach at the Bethpage Air Show on Monday as crowds gathered around to watch (right)
Venice Beach, California: A couple walked down the boardwalk on Monday
Wantagh, New York: A firefighter and his son watched the skies as U.S. Air Force pilots performed tricks and stunts for the crowd
Santa Monica, California: People flocked to the beach to soak up some sun on Monday after more than a year in COVID lockdown
Atlanta, Georgia: Stewardesses prepared to board their plane as air traffic increases
Wantagh, New York: Thunderbirds took to the sky at the Air Show, performing stunts for a crowd of beach-goers
GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan reported on Twitter that gasoline demand surged over the holiday weekend, increasing 7 percent over the previous weekend and 9.6 percent above the average of the past four Sundays
Others around the country gathered for Memorial Day services, including one at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City on Monday.
The annual ceremony honors all those who lost their lives in combat, including the 250 men who died while serving aboard the former Intrepid aircraft carrier in World War II. It was also designed to honor the more than 150 former Intrepid crewmembers who lost their lives this past year, according to New York 1 News, many of whom perished as a result of the coronavirus.
The current and former service members sat socially-distanced as officials laid a wreath and unfurled an American flag to remember those lives lost.
‘All of us as Americans, as New Yorkers, we did persevere,’ New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said at the ceremony. ‘We found something inside ourselves. Let’s find it now, as we bind our nation together again
‘Let’s find the unity we found in those moments fighting COVID shoulder to shoulder, take it forward [and] create something better,’ he said, adding: ‘We want to honor the ones we lost. Let’s create something as good at them, a place of hope and unity again.’
The ceremony was closed to the public and was live-streamed.
Service members from the Joint Task Force Empire Shield Company A presented colors
New York, New York: Members of all branches of the United States Armed Forces displayed the American flag at a Memorial Day ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
New York, New York: Servicemen from the Joint Task Force Empire Shield Company A rehearsed the three-volley rifle salute at the Memorial Day ceremony
New York, New York: Retired members of the U.S. Military posed for a picture with Rear Admiral Charles Rock, in the back center
New York, New York: Mayor Bill De Blasio (right) and Bruce Mosler (left), the co-chairman of the Intrepid Museum threw a wreath into the Hudson river
President Joe Biden, meanwhile, attended a memorial service in Delaware on Sunday, remembering his late son Beau Biden, who served in the Iraq War and died of a brain tumor in 2015.
‘We’re honored, but it’s a tough day, brings back everything,’ he said at the service, ‘I can’t thank you enough for your continued service to the country and your sons, your daughters, they live on in your hearts and in their children as well.’
The president then traveled to another ceremony at Arlington National Ceremony, where he said: ‘We’re the children of sacrifice made by a long line of American service members — each a link in that chain of honor. We are free because they are brave.’
Former presidents also shared their thoughts on social media.
Donald Trump said in a statement: ‘On this Memorial Day, we remember the fallen heroes who took their last breaths in defense of our Nation, our families, our citizens and our sacred freedoms. The depth of their devotion, the steel of their resolve, and the purity of their patriotism has no equal in human history.’
And former President Barack Obama wrote on social media: ‘This Memorial Day, let’s remember the men and women who sacrificed everything for the people they served with and the country they loved. We owe them all an enormous debt of gratitude.’