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Celebrate Independence Day safely

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- As we celebrate our independence, I want to thank each one of you for bravely serving our country and providing this nation's blanket of freedom. We all agreed to serve our country during a time of war, accepting the risks and dangers involved--and our country needs us now more than ever. As we celebrate our country's 233rd birthday, we'll take to the outdoors with family, friends and coworkers to enjoy the beauty of our great nation and all of the freedoms it affords. Barbecues, boating, fireworks and travel will be the centerpiece of holiday plans from coast-to-coast. 

Recognized as a defining moment in American history, the Fourth of July also marks the mid-point of our summer safety campaign. The cornerstone of any safety campaign is sound risk management. Internalizing these principles is vital during this holiday weekend with so much potential for accidents. 

Motorcycling, water sports, barbecuing, travel, outdoor activities and temperatures will all soar to peak levels. Understanding the risk associated with any activity and mitigating that risk to an acceptable level is a fundamental responsibility of Airmen. Safety is ingrained in everything we do and should be a part of every plan and every action we perform. 

In most cases, good common sense will mitigate the most obvious risks. Avoid firework hazards by attending a local fireworks show and leave the high-risk activities to the professionals. When participating in outdoor activities, utilize proper safety gear and recognize factors like weather, fatigue and your surroundings. No matter what you decide to do, be cognizant of alcohol use by yourself and those around you. The misuse of alcohol can make any activity dangerous. Be a true Wingman and do what it takes to keep each other safe! 

Team Little Rock exists to produce Combat Airlift, but without you, that mission would falter. Your safety, and the safety of your friends and family is paramount during this joyous holiday. 

I'm proud to serve with each of you, and would like to do so for a long time. My priorities are simple: Mission First, People Always, and Have Some Fun Along the Way. You work hard fulfilling the mission and deserve this long weekend ... have some fun! As you spend quality time with family and friends, enjoy this nations' liberties you help secure every day, and continue to protect our nation by protecting its greatest resource - you. 

Happy Independence Day!