FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 1, 2019) - In 1776, a small group of patriots began an experiment in democracy that few predicted would become the greatest nation on earth. Through the 243 years since, American Soldiers have selflessly and courageously defended our freedoms. Your service ensures liberty will endure in this great land for many years to come, and I thank you all for your dedication and sacrifice.

As we celebrate this Independence Day, we must remember two of the most important elements of service in our Army: accountability and discipline. Risk management is a vital part of both. Unwinding during holidays and off-duty time is essential to the well-being of both Soldiers and Army Civilians, but temptations like drinking and driving, speeding on the open road and deliberately neglecting to wear seat belts prove deadly far too often. Alcohol and water -- be it boating or swimming -- is an equally tragic combination. Being accountable and disciplined means taking a few moments to think about the consequences of your actions and following through with a plan to ensure the best possible outcome. Be prepared, plan ahead and always make safety a priority.

However you choose to spend the next few days, please play it safe and remember everyone who is counting on you to make it back after the long weekend. Thank you all for what you do every day for our Army and our Nation. I wish each of you a very happy Fourth of July.

Readiness Through Safety!