Countless Americans will hit the road, board a plane, or find some other means of traveling this Fourth of July weekend. Others will stay put, but they're still likely to be out and about, celebrating the patriotic holiday. On Independence Day, cookouts and fireworks should be all that you have to worry about, but officials have issued warnings that may also cause you to worry about the potential for a July 4 terror threat.
In the wake of recent attacks in Paris, Brussels, and now Istanbul, concern over the risk of more violence in busy public places has risen. In the U.S., Americans will gather in parks, stadiums, and the like for fireworks displays and other patriotic events on Monday. Throughout the entire weekend, they'll travel to and from their holiday weekend destinations.
In fact, approximately 43 million Americans are expected to travel over the weekend, according to AAA. More than 3 million are expected to fly, which means they'll have to pass through at least two airports during the course of the long weekend. The fourth of July is always a popular weekend for travel in the U.S., but cheap gas prices and lower airfare costs could explain the uptick in travel this year, according to AAA's report.
Concern for a terrorist attack seems particularly high at airports, given Tuesday's attack in Turkey. There, more than 40 people died and more than 200 others were injured following a series of explosions, which were reportedly carried out by three suicide bombers. Now, transportation security officials are warning travelers to give themselves extra time at the security checkpoint over the holiday weekend.
According to Reuters, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey increased its security presence at New York City airports the day after the Istanbul attack. Airports in Washington, D.C., Boston, Los Angeles, and other cities also increased — or planned to increase — their security measures. Amtrak also reported that it would increase security ahead of the busy travel weekend. Beyond travel hubs, the New York City police department planned to have counterterrorism units and increased police on duty at public celebrations.
Aside from Independence Day, another holiday could be behind the heightened security measures. According to NBC News, ISIS has called for its supporters to carry out more attacks on the West during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan began on June 5 and continues through Tuesday, July 5.
As Americans prepare for a weekend of celebrations — celebrations of freedom, no less — it seems that security officials are preparing for the worst. The potential security risk may worry travelers, but it likely won't inhibit too many Americans' plans. It may mean a longer wait at the airport terminal, though.