FORT LEE, Va. (July 2, 2015) -- Two hundred and thirty-nine years ago, the Declaration of Independence was created and it boldly asserted “That all men are created equal, are endowed by their creator with unalienable rights, which among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The hope of our founding fathers in adopting this declaration was to create a nation with a hopeful vision of liberty and equality for all.

This American holiday is always filled with memories of barbecues and firework displays in our backyards, small hometown squares, or stadiums filled with thousands of onlookers as we celebrate our freedoms and our way of life. The United States Army has played a critical role for over 239 years in preserving and protecting these freedoms.

As we reflect with pride on our heritage and accomplishments as a nation, we know the importance of preserving the well-being of our Soldiers and families. All leaders and supervisors need to take positive action to mitigate risks associated with our long weekends. Our goal is to have all of our Soldiers, civilians and family members enjoy a safe and accident-free holiday weekend.

Commanders will ensure that safety briefings and risk management are addressed with every Soldier, at all levels, and the importance of assuming responsibility for their actions. Every leader must actively ensure accident prevention and personally promote and stress safe, responsible behavior. We are all individually accountable and collectively responsible for our actions. We represent America and the American people. We must act accordingly.

Enjoy this holiday weekend. My family and I wish each and every one of you a safe and happy 4th of July!