On July 4, 1848, the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid during a ceremony attended by President James K. Polk and other dignitaries, among whom were future presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. Today, this recently reopened monument, like many other sites in the National Capital Region, is a reminder of the importance of the independence our Nation fought for and declared on that day in 1776. The 4th of July is a time to celebrate and reflect on the significance of our freedom and our role in sustaining it.

George Washington once said, "Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all." I urge each of you to exercise discipline while you enjoy the 4th of July holiday by considering the risks you take with your off-duty activities. Before getting in a car or on a motorcycle, analyze the associated hazards and take measures to keep yourself and those around you out of danger. The same goes for other summertime activities like swimming, barbequing, boating, using fireworks, etc.

During the summer season last year, the Department of Defense lost a total of 83 service members to motor vehicle and sports and recreation accidents, all between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Knowing the hazards and managing risk during the "critical days of summer" is essential. Tools to assist you with indentifying hazards that you may encounter during your Independence Day celebrations and throughout the summer are available at: http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Independence-Day.shtml and https://safety.army.mil.

I hope that you and your family have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.

Jeffrey S. Buchanan
Maj. Gen. U.S. Army

Page last updated Tue July 1st, 2014 at 07:44