Memorial Day 2020, Observe Responsibly and Don’t Become a Memory
Steven R. Casstevens
Chief, Buffalo Grove, IL Police Department and President, International Association of Chiefs of Police
Advisory Board Member, Responsibility.org
As we approach Memorial Day on Monday, May 25, we honor and remember the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Military. As a proud veteran of the U.S. Army, 101st Airborne Division, this day is particularly meaningful to me. It fills me with pride, it humbles me, it reminds me of the great strength and resiliency of our nation, but it also compels me to bear in mind the sanctity of life, particularly during this pandemic where we face the unseen threat of the COVID-19 virus and the role that social distancing and quarantine has played in our daily lives.
Memorial Day is traditionally a solemn day, with visits to cemeteries and memorials and families coming together to remember their fallen veterans. But it has evolved to play a dual role in our communities, marking the beginning of summer with parades, cookouts, and a variety of celebrations that represent a joyous and festive time of year. This year is especially unique as people are eager to get outside and socialize in a way that none of us can probably recall.
But with those celebrations comes risk and responsibility. Understandably, these gatherings will often involve alcohol and, having been sequestered for so long, people may have forgotten or modified their tolerance levels for intoxication especially when it comes to driving. It is more important than ever, with threats like the COVID-19 somewhat out of our own control, that we take responsibility for our actions and our decisions.
It is a time to rejoice and enjoy the sunshine and the freedom that we all enjoy across this nation, but I appeal to you as a police chief, as a veteran, as a father, and as a responsible member of the driving public to not drive impaired. Memorial Day weekend bears one of the highest rates of impaired driving crashes over the entire year, do not let your celebration turn into a tragic statistic.
There are so many options available to make safe decisions now, there is no excuse to get behind the wheel of a vehicle and pose potential injury or death to another. Please consider all of your options: designate a driver, stay where you are, utilize a ride share service, or simply refrain from drinking.
One very effective and interesting way to approach this issue is to check out the Virtual Bar on our website at Responsibility.org. The Virtual Bar utilizes tested science to gain a better understanding of how different factors affect your BAC depending on your gender, weight, the food you eat, and what and how you drink. It also gives you a sense of how long it would take for your BAC to return to 0.00, which may be surprising.
The Virtual Bar will tell you how you might actually be feeling at different BAC levels to help you relate to and better understand the differences between BAC levels. If you feel different, you drive different.
On behalf of the men and women of law enforcement, the military, and the team at Responsibility.org, I wish you a happy and healthy Memorial Day, but most importantly, I want you to stay safe at home and on our roadways.