On July 4, we commemorate the Declaration of Independence as a statement of our values and beliefs, and celebrate its signing as the beginning of our heritage.

The United States Army has played a critical role in preserving and protecting our nation’s freedom and way of life. As we reflect on this proud tradition of service and sacrifice, we must also remember the importance of ensuring the well-being of our military personnel, family members and civilians.

While celebrating, it’s fitting to remember all who gave their lives to protect our hard-won liberties. These patriots gave their utmost for a cause; don’t give up yours in a moment of reckless behavior. 

Keep a watchful eye for each other; talk about travel plans and use designated drivers when necessary. Watch out for the risks associated with holiday recreational activities such as swimming, boating, competitive sports, cookouts and fireworks. These activities can turn especially dangerous and deadly when combined with alcohol.

Operation of unsafe automobiles and motorcycles continues to be the No. 1 killer in our formations. Ensure your vehicles are in good operating condition, drive defensively and maintain situational awareness. I ask everyone to use the risk management process in the planning for all holiday activities. The little time it takes to plan your family outing or off-duty travel can be the difference between a great vacation and a tragic accident that was likely avoidable.

I urge every member of this command to reiterate the importance of safety awareness and education. Whatever your plans, manage your risks to make this a safe and enjoyable holiday.

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