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For nearly 150 years, Americans from diverse backgrounds have gathered together on the last Thursday of November to give thanks for past and present blessings, and those yet to come. The annual Thanksgiving observance is a time of feast and festivities and travel to reunite with loved ones.

As you take advantage of these next few days – whether planning a visit with family and friends, recharging your batteries for the holidays ahead or simply enjoying the downtime of a long weekend – I ask that you always keep safety in mind. Spend a few moments thinking about the risks you may encounter in fulfilling your plans and how you can stay safe in everything you do.

Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest travel periods of the year. If a road trip is part of your holiday plans, please be sure to think ahead about potential hazards on the highway. Weather conditions change rapidly this time of year. Some parts of the country have already received their first winter weather event. Make a plan, be prepared for the unexpected and check in with your loved ones to ensure they arrive at their destinations safely.

Even those remaining in the local area for the Thanksgiving holiday need to be cautious. It only takes a moment of inattention to become an accident victim. Stay alert. Obey the posted speed limit. Drive defensively. Wear your seatbelt, and don’t be a distracted driver.

When you celebrate with family and friends, remember to do so responsibly. Designate a driver ahead of time or call a cab when you or your friends have had too much to drink. We all have an obligation to stay safe whether at work, home or out in the community, and it’s especially important we remind each other of this responsibility during our time off.

As you enjoy this Thanksgiving holiday, I hope it will be a time for thanks, relaxation and renewal. Weigh the meanings of family, including fellow military members, veterans, coworkers and the extended Fort Lee Team. I wish each of you a happy and safe Thanksgiving.