America Roars Back as Millions Travel Over Memorial Day Weekend: ‘I’m Feeling Free!’

Written by on June 1, 2021

Travelers check in at a ticket counter at Orlando International Airport before the Memorial Day weekend Friday, May 28, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

WASHINGTON – Memorial Day was the first "maskless" holiday in more than a year for many Americans, and across the country people were out publicly honoring the fallen and marking the unofficial start to summer.

One woman summed up the collective relief saying, "I'm feeling free! No masks!"

Over the holiday weekend, an estimated 34 million people hit the roads, and at airports, more than seven million people were screened by TSA between Thursday and Sunday shattering expectations.

"This is why this airport is open," said Bill Talbert of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Center, pointing to his vaccination card. "People are traveling, they're able to travel and it's because of the vaccine."

From coast to coast, crowds gathered for barbeques and parades honoring the fallen.

"We can finally talk to each other, shake hands, enter places without masks," said veteran Jim Sarns. "This is the way it should be."

At Arlington National Cemetery, President Biden gave a solemn speech and remembered his own son.

"I promise you this: the day will come when the image of your loved one will bring a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eyes," said Biden.

With more than half of all American adults now vaccinated, crowds and big events returned to normal. The Indy 500 packed 135,000 fans in the stands, the biggest event since the pandemic.

It all comes as the country now reports fewer than 20,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, the lowest number in more than a year.

"You feel the unity of everybody finally being able to come outside without having to worry as much about getting sick," said one Miami beachgoer.

Meanwhile, experts are tracking a new strain out of Vietnam that shares features with the more contagious U.K. and Indian variants. However, they say the vaccines should protect against it.

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