Memorial Day 2021: Veterans and Gold Star Families Can Enter National Parks for Free

by Will Shepard
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The National Park Service is doing an awesome thing for Memorial Day this year.

The National Park Service is giving free entry to all of the parks in the U.S. for active military family members. They are also giving free admission to families of fallen U.S. military personnel.

Not only is this a Memorial Day pass, but it might turn into a year-long pass at National Parks. This could be part of the Interagency Annual Military Pass. Recently, the NPS expanded the benefit of that pass to Gold Star families and veterans on Veterans Day 2020.

Being recognized as a Gold Star family is a family who lost a loved one during military service.

The NPS is making these programs a permanent fixture. This will help lots of families for the foreseeable future enter National Parks for free.

The National Park Service’s website said, “Free access for veterans and Gold Star Families will continue indefinitely unless the Secretarial Order and/or FLREA are amended, superseded, or revoked/expired.”

More importantly, the families will have a much easier time accessing this program. All they need to do is download a voucher. Once that step is done, families will sign it to ensure that only “eligible next of kin” receive an entry. This applies to members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Veterans who want to enter a park on Memorial Day this year can present several IDs for free access. They can use either a Defense Department ID card, a Veteran ID card, a Veteran Health ID card, or a Veteran’s designation on their state-issued U.S. driver’s license to receive a Park pass. 

America’s National Parks Will Also Be Open for Citizens With Disabilities on Memorial Day

American citizens with disabilities will also receive free entry. The Memorial Day National Park Service initiative will extend to U.S. residents with disabilities, according to USA Today. This is a step in the right direction for allowing more access to National Parks all around the country.

In California, this has been a program that has been around since 2013. However, the rest of the U.S. is a ways behind the state. California gives free entry to its state parks for active-duty, veterans, and reserve military members on Memorial Day.

The California State Parks Director, Armando Quintero, talked about their program in a recent statement. He said, “Thank you to the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. In their honor, state parks are offering military individuals complimentary admission to some of the most amazing places within California’s state parks system.”

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