FORT BENNING, Ga., (June 26, 2013) -- As we prepare to celebrate the birth of our nation and the freedoms we hold dear, I want to thank all of you and your Families for answering the call to service. Today's Army is an all-volunteer force, just as it was in 1775. You are true professionals and your work at the Maneuver Center of Excellence is critical to sustaining the combat effectiveness of our maneuver force.

We should also recognize the sacrifices of those who have come before us and remember our fellow Soldiers and civilians who are serving around the world, especially those serving in combat in Afghanistan.

As we enjoy the holiday, I ask that you be vigilant when it comes to safety. Please recognize and manage risks associated with activities like boating, swimming, fireworks and grilling outdoors.

Commanders and directors will conduct pre-holiday safety briefings, but what is most critical is for everyone to think safety and manage risk.

Some keys to ensuring your safety include:

• Arrive alive. Never drink and operate vehicles, watercraft or motorcycles. Plan ahead for a designated driver when drinking is involved. There is no excuse when it comes to drinking and driving.

• Prevent fires. Have an emergency plan and equipment when grilling. Please leave the fireworks to the professionals. Fort Benning is planning a huge Independence Day celebration with fireworks Saturday.

• Plan ahead. All Soldiers traveling outside the Fort Benning and Chattahoochee Valley area must complete a Travel Risk Planning System report, which can be found online at https:// safety.army.mil.

• Prevent heat injury. Heat-related injuries are the result of overexposure to the sun and high temperatures. If you are planning to be outdoors, drink plenty of water and limit your activities during periods of extreme heat and high humidity.

• Practice motorcycle safety. All motorcyclists must wear personal protective equipment. In addition, motorcyclists must obey the posted speed limit signs. Do not attempt risky maneuvers.

We are committed to teamwork, discipline and protecting our greatest assets -- our people. Let's work together to ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable Independence Day.

One Force, One Fight!

-- Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster
Commanding general

Page last updated Wed June 26th, 2013 at 00:00