LTG Mike Ferriter, commanding general, U.S. Army Installation Management Command

This Memorial Day, we pause to honor those who gave their lives to protect the liberties afforded to all Americans. Every generation has had its heroes; and ours are our Soldiers, defending our freedoms around the world today, and their Families, supporting them at home.

While we remember those fallen comrades, we also want to ensure we take care of our team who selflessly serve others. Memorial Day marks the start of the summer and with it, the Army's Summer Safety Campaign. These critical days are a time of increased outdoor activity and an increase in hazards. A little planning and careful execution will go a long way.

As our Families get ready to kick off the summer I want to urge everyone to stay safe on the road during a time of year when automobile accidents and fatalities tend to increase. You all know the stories behind these losses; some have used alcohol then got behind the wheel; others traveled without getting the right amount of sleep the night before; and some may have been distracted. To ensure a safe Memorial Day holiday weekend, I want you to refrain from all cell phone use behind the wheel and to make sure that all passengers are buckled up and children are in age-appropriate safety seats. Remember that children 12 and under should always be in the back seat. Allow plenty of travel time to avoid frustration and diminish the impulse to speed. Don't drink and drive! There is no destination worth the life of you or your loved ones.

Many of you will head to the beach over the Memorial Day weekend. As with many outdoor activities, there are common sense precautions to ensure your safety and that of your loved ones. Swim with a buddy, or at least, have someone onshore watching you. Avoid the rip current waters, those concentrated rivers of water moving offshore. If you are caught in a rip current, don't fight it by trying to swim directly to shore. Instead, swim parallel to shore until you feel the current relax, and then swim to shore. Finally, swim sober. Alcohol is a major factor in drowning. Alcohol can reduce body temperature and impair swimming ability. Perhaps more importantly, both alcohol and drugs impair good judgment, which may cause people to take risks they would not otherwise take.

As the temperatures rise every spring, Soldiers, Army Civilians, and their Family members are sometimes a little too eager to get back to the fun that only warm weather can bring. I encourage you to stay active -- enjoy the warm weather, the great outdoors, and all the fun offered. Just be smart. Be safe.

CSM Rice and I thank you for everything you do to support the Army and our Soldiers and Families. This Memorial Day, please take a moment to remember those who have fallen while defending our way of life. Have a safe and good weekend.

Army Strong!

LTG Mike Ferriter

Page last updated Tue May 21st, 2013 at 00:00