For many Americans, Memorial Day weekend is a three-day holiday that marks the unofficial start of summer. There's much more to it than that, of course. Memorial Day is intended to be a solemn occasion to honor American’s lost service men and women.
It dates back to 1868, three years after the end of the Civil War, when Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union Army veterans, established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of war dead with flowers. The first national celebration was held on May 30 that year at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies had spread across the nation. In 1971, an act of Congress declared it a national holiday, moving it to the last Monday in May.
Arlington remains a center of Memorial Day observances, with flags placed on each grave and ceremonies attended by the president or vice president. Washington plays host to the popular National Memorial Day Concert, broadcast live on PBS, the Sunday before the holiday and to the National Memorial Day Parade on Monday.
But, you don't have to be in the nation's capital to take part. Here are four ways you can honor the memory of those who have died in service to our nation, wherever you are.
Heading our to the Outer Banks with the top down? Maybe cruise the Smokies with the wind in your hair? Well my Carolina friends, here's some information you may want to consider before splurging on that convertible!
So your heart’s set on driving off the dealership lot with the top down and the sun on your face, the envy of each onlooker you pass. But, have you checked in with your local insurance agent about the cost of insuring a convertible?
You may think it’s only a myth that convertibles are expensive to insure, but, in many cases, there’s some truth to the notion.
It’s important to have realistic expectations about the cost of insuring a convertible. To help, here are four reasons why you may spend more insuring a convertible than you would a less envy-evoking ride (the best way to know what will or won’t impact your rates, of course, is checking insurance costs with your local agent):
It may sound like we’re trying to sway you from the car of your dreams, but we’re not. We just want you to be financially sound and protected when you’re rolling with the top down.
t’s hard to believe your child is already graduating, much less getting ready to head off to college or join the workforce — first grade seems like just yesterday, after all.
You’ve worked hard to put your kids in a position to succeed, and they’ve worked hard to reach their goals. To reward that success, many parents decide to purchase a car (or help buy one, anyway) for their young students as they look toward whatever the future holds. It’s often a practical consideration as well, depending on college plans, work responsibilities and living arrangements.
So, when you’re looking at cars for your grad, here are a few questions to ask to help ensure you make a smart choice. (And, frankly, they’re good things to ask anytime you’re shopping for a vehicle.)
1. How safe is it?
Whether you’re buying a new or used car, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have useful online tools to help you find safety data on various models. IIHS has awarded Top Safety Picks since the 2006 model year, while the NHTSA site has crash-safety tests going back to 1990. Finally, the National Insurance Crime Bureau has a free service that will tell you if the car you’re considering has been reported stolen or as a salvage vehicle.
2. How reliable is it?
You don’t want your young student to end up stranded on the side of the road somewhere, or, worse yet, facing costly repair bills. Doing a little research on reliability ratings from sources such as Consumer Reports will give you insight into what other owners of the same model have experienced. There’s no guarantee that your experience will be the same, but you’ll get a good idea of what to expect. If you’re truly concerned, consider vehicles that come with a warranty, whether new or certified pre-owned.
3. How will it be driven?
Is your grad headed to college or a job a few hundred miles away? You might consider a car that gets good gas mileage (at least if you want him/her to come home to visit every once in a while), as well as one that has low maintenance costs. What about weather? If driving conditions are frequently a little hairy, all-wheel-drive might be important.
4. How much will it cost to insure?
Different cars can vary widely when it comes to insurance costs, so, when you’ve narrowed down your choices, be sure to call your independent agent to get a few insurance quotes. You might also consider putting the car on your policy as an additional vehicle, if that’s an option. If your child is still in school, ask about good student discounts. Also educate your grad about how his/her own driving behavior impacts insurance costs — not just for this car, but well into the future. Driving history follows you from car to car, after all.
5. Are there special considerations for used cars?
If you are buying a used car, there are certainly some additional things you need to consider, according toAAA. First of all, you definitely need an inspection by a repair shop you know and trust. (This should cost about one to two hours of labor.) You should ask the owner for past records if they’re available, and, if the car has between 60,000-90,000 miles, find out if the timing belt has been replaced. Finally, use Carfax or a similar service to get as much history on the vehicle as possible. Remember, if the seller is hesitant or won’t allow an inspection, proceed with caution.
A car can make life easier for both your grad and you — as long as it’s the right car. (And we don’t need to tell you this, but, no matter what your child says, a sports car is probably not the right car.) With a little bit of research and common sense, you can be confident when it’s time for your grad to hit the road.
We all have our pet peeves when navigating through a parking lot or parking garage. The driver who throws it in reverse and backs out without looking. Or the pedestrian who charges out of the store, also not looking.
No matter what your parking lot pet peeve happens to be, these dos and don’ts will help you avoid a collision or other catastrophe, all while keeping your cool:
Don’t Speed or Fight Over a Spot
So you’re in a hurry and you want that primo spot close to the store. Guess what? So does everyone else. By slowing down and removing yourself from the fray, you do yourself a multitude of favors. First, when you reduce your speed, you give yourself more time to react to dangerous situations, such as a child darting out from between parked cars. Second, by parking farther away from the store, you may minimize your exposure to dings and scratches from other vehicles. Just don’t park in an area that feels unsafe.
Do Stay Alert
Distractions are always a danger when you’re behind the wheel, even when you’re slowly making your way around a parking lot or through a parking garage. So, stay off your phone and stay alert. Look for other drivers and pedestrians who aren’t paying attention so you can avoid collisions and injuries. In a parking garage, be careful going around corners and of people stepping out of the elevators. In a busy lot, watch for cars backing out unexpectedly and people walking where they shouldn’t.
Do Be Kind
If we all cut each other a little slack, we’ll all be safer and happier while running our many errands. So stop to let pedestrians cross in front of you in the parking lot. Don’t be so hard on the person who’s boxed in by large vehicles and has to back out blindly in the parking garage. And give parents who are loading groceries while wrangling kids a little extra space.
Don’t Forget to Look
Use your eyes, your mirrors and, if you have one, your rear-view camera when backing out of a space. You’re sure to miss something if you rely on just a single source of vision. When pulling into a spot, look for car doors being opened, people pulling through the space and carts left in the wrong spot. Look to see whether you can really fit in the spot, leaving room on both sides for your car doors and the ones next to you to open freely.
Do Stay Calm If You Get Into a Parking Lot Accident
Despite your best efforts, you may still get into a parking lot accident. If so, call law enforcement, if needed. Also take pictures, exchange insurance information with the other driver, write down how it happened and collect contact information from witnesses.
Remember, being in a hurry and being distracted are some of the worst things you can do in a parking lot. Assume there will be dangers so you can watch for them and avoid them.
Carolina Insurance Alliance
Brought to you by Carolina Insurance Alliance, LLC.