This Fourth of July weekend, put safety first and return ready to execute the mission
July 2, 2014
ANSBACH, Germany (July 2, 2014) -- The Fourth of July is a uniquely American holiday that celebrates the birth of a nation founded on the principle that "... all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." The essential meaning of this immortal declaration has been passed down from generation to generation in folklore, school books, ballads, poems, movies and speeches. Two hundred and thirty-eight years later the words continue to reverberate in the hearts and minds of Americans.
Every year, Americans around the world stop and celebrate the birth of our nation with pride and enthusiasm. Perhaps no one celebrates the birth of America as much as those who chose to protect and defend it. At U.S. military installations around the globe, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guardsman courageously stand in harm's way protecting their fellow Americans, preserving our way of life and fighting to secure the freedom of others. I thank you for your dedicated service.
Let's celebrate the birth of our nation for those who cannot leave their foxhole with tempered enthusiasm. I encourage you to join our Fourth of July celebration at Storck Barracks, Illesheim. If you chose to celebrate the holiday with friends and loved ones at home, or on vacation, do so smartly and with good judgment. Don't let your eagerness to celebrate or your enthusiasm to have fun put you or others into a dangerous situation for which you are untrained, unequipped or unprepared. The result could be a career-ending or life-changing experience.
When you ride in a motor vehicle, wear your seat belts. If you're the operator, ensure all of your passengers are properly restrained before you put the vehicle in gear. This will help protect you and others in the event of an accident. When you ride a motorcycle, wear the required personal protective equipment and drive defensively. When you swim, know the depth and condition of the water before you dive, and don't swim alone. When you're outside for prolonged periods, wear sun screen, stay hydrated and dress for the weather.
In all activities, don't forget that alcohol can impair your judgment and coordination. Of special note, the private use of fireworks on military installations is prohibited.
While we are far removed from the battlefield, let's not forget that we are still a nation at war and we need every member, military and civilian, of the team to support the warfighter. With that in mind, please watch out for each other at home, work and play. You know better than most when your battle buddy, friend or loved one is feeling stressed or depressed and you are in the best position to help them. Don't avoid the issue; ask the question and act, if needed, to save your battle buddy, co-worker, friend or loved one from making a bad decision that may have deadly consequences. Life is precious!
Leaders should ensure all of their personnel, military and civilian, receive a safety briefing before they depart for the extended weekend. Remind departing members that their unit, the Army and America is counting on them to return healthy, safe and ready to execute the mission.
Finally, I want to thank each and every one of you for your service and your sacrifice. I wish you and all of your family a safe and happy Fourth of July.