A lot of people will be traveling this Memorial Day weekend. Some of us will be heading to the lake, while others are visiting families to remember those that have passed before us.
I remember my father on this day. He died at age 47, much too young, and my memories of him are now ones of the hero he was to me. He had an amazing ability to drive non-stop for hours.
We grew up in the Detroit area of Michigan and many of our vacations were the of the “visit Granny and Granddad” variety. On the long trips we took to Florida to visit my Papa and Grandmother, we would play a game that we now play with my kids—the game of counting how many different state license plates we could find.
It’s a simple game. Every new state we uncover goes on the list and we cheer each new milestone. One year, we went on a three week vacation from Michigan, to upstate New York (Baseball Hall of Fame), and down the east coast to Florida. We had found the 48 lower states along the way and figured there was no way we would find Alaska and Hawaii.
Imagine our shock when we pulled into a parking near the beach on Singer Island and found the last two sitting side by side! Few people believe the story and if we had had cell phone cameras in 1974, we could have preserved the moment in history.
A strange thing about the country we live in now is that we are so much more mobile than we were in 1974. We went on a three day trip to Tulsa, OK from Wichita, KS, and found 39 states. We found both Alaska and Hawaii while driving around in Tulsa. We even have adopted the game to play a shortened version in Wal*Mart parking lots.
Try this some time you have a few minutes to kill. After securing your packages, drive up and down each aisle in the parking lot and count how many different states you can find. I will bet you that you will find at least ten states each and every time. Why do I know this? We average about ten each time we go. For every border state to Kansas we find, we find one that just seems like it does not belong, like California or Georgia.
I guess the moral of this story is we live in the country that gives us the freedom to move around. My Father-in-Law was a District Court Judge in Wichita and he has remarked several times how amazing it really is to drive across state lines as freely and as many times as we want. Try that in Europe or Africa. It is not going to happen without searches and passports.
On this Memorial Day, please remember those that gave the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedom to travel as we please. Remember your family. Remember to hug the ones you have now.