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Flags are seen at the Chattanooga National Cemetery in this file photo.

Over the next several days, the nation will pause to remember the its fallen service members as the Memorial Day weekend gets underway.

The unofficial start to summer, this weekend is expected to bring a taste of the season to come, with warm weather and mostly sunny skies — perfect for the millions nationwide who plan to travel.

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Transportation changes on Monday in observance of Memorial Day

Transportation changes on Monday in observance of Memorial Day

Downtown parking meters will not be enforced.

CARTA’s fixed route, Downtown Shuttle and North Shore Shuttle bus services will operate on Saturday schedules.

Road closures on Monday from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. for Chattanooga Chase - Dorchester Road from Barton Avenue to Sterling Avenue and the right northbound lane of Hixson Pike from Woodhill Drive to Minnekahda Place will be closed.

More Info

For a list of Memorial Day events in your area, visit events.chattanooganow.com/search/.

With close to 700,000 motorists expected on Tennessee's roadways, the state transportation department will suspend all construction-related lane closures on interstates and state routes from noon today through 6 a.m. Tuesday.

AAA estimates more than 38 million people will travel this holiday, the second highest total since 2005, with a record 89 percent traveling by car.

"We want to ensure we keep everybody safe and keep traffic moving to the best of our ability," said Lacy Word, an incident management coordinator with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. "We are expecting high volumes of traffic over the holiday weekend."

According to Word, in addition to broadcasting messages about seat belt use and driving safely on interstates, TDOT has partnered with several agencies including the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Georgia State Patrol to continue its Hands Across the Border campaign to set up several safety checkpoints throughout the region.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office also announced this week that it will be stepping up its enforcement of seat belt laws in an effort to reduce the number of casualties related to traffic incidents through June 5.

The state's current seat belt use is 86.2 percent, making Tennessee a "low-use" state, according to a release from the sheriff's office. The release also cited the Department of Homeland Security to say 343 people killed in traffic incidents in Tennessee last year were not wearing seat belts — more than 48 percent of those killed.

Sheriff Jim Hammond stated that "many injured drivers and families of those killed or seriously injured wish they or their loved ones had buckled up."

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WRCB-TV Chief Meteorologist Paul Barys said Thursday that high temperatures are expected to remain in the mid- to upper-80s, with little change except for occasional cloud cover.

For those who plan to stay in the area, there is plenty to do for the holiday.

The Chattanooga National Cemetery will host one of the primary events to honor service members on Monday with an all-day event beginning at 10 a.m. with a concert by the 82-person Memorial Honor Band. More than 42 million men and women have served the country in wartime, and of those, a sobering total of 1.35 million gave their lives in conflict.

After the concert and the decoration of every gravesite with an American flag, the annual program will commence at 11 a.m. with a number of speeches including words from the keynote speaker, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann. Events at the cemetery will conclude with a torch-lit tour of the grounds at 8:45 p.m.

WUTC 88.1 FM, the local affiliate of National Public Radio, will celebrate Memorial Day with a special military-themed radio program to air at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. that will be streamed on-demand from its website, wutc.org.

The program will feature songwriters Don Goodman, Steve Dean and Bob Regan, who collaborated with Chattanooga-area veterans of Vietnam and World War II to create their songs.

The artists also worked with Lorri Wyatt, the widow of Marine Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, one of the five servicemen who was killed last year in the July 16 shootings. She wrote the song "Chattanooga Rain" as a tribute to her husband and to thank the community for its support after his death.

Area residents also are welcome to join several other events in the days before Monday.

On Saturday, several artillery programs will be held in the morning and afternoon at Point Park. Visitors are encouraged to bring photos or mementos of loved ones who gave their lives in the line of duty.

At Chickamauga Battlefield, there will be a car caravan tour starting at 11 a.m. inside the visitor center that will focus on "The Fallen Leaders of Chickamauga." That program is expected to last about two hours.

More information on both programs can be found at www.nps.gov/chch.

Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

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