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Safety reminders -- do they work?

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Every year around this time, we begin to see the articles and hear the reminders about "being safe." The 101 Critical Days of Summer are upon us and will officially begin with Memorial Day weekend and culminate Labor Day weekend.

Reminders, reminders; once again you might ask, "What will be different about this year?" Do the constant reminders and the focus placed on safety really work? I like to think that they do. I remember reminding my children, "look both ways before you cross the street;" "stop, drop and roll in cases of fire;" and "never get into a car with a stranger." As they entered their teenage years and went off to college, I continued to remind them, "always have a backup plan if you go to an unfamiliar location;" "use the buddy system when you're out and about;" and the list goes on. I like to think that this has had an impact because after the constant reminders, they would finish my sentences for me, smile and say, "yeah, Mom, I know, I will, don't worry."

It is a known fact that practice makes perfect, and repetition leads to improved memory. But I hope every member of our critical force realizes that they are just that, critical, critical to the mission, and that we cannot accomplish the mission without our greatest asset -- people. So take to heart the constant reminders, practice Operational Risk Management before engaging in summer activities, and don't just repeat the words, "yeah, yeah, I'll be safe," but actually follow through and "be safe!"  A lot of people are depending on you to do just that.

During the Year of Leadership, safety is not just limited to our being safe in our activities. It also relates to what we do on a daily basis for our nation. "Safety" is the epitome of the job we volunteered to do -- to protect our nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Bottom line, we volunteered to keep our nation safe. I am reminded that I am a part of something much larger than just me. It is a great cause, one that everyone is not suited to accomplish, but the few, the dedicated, the committed who will risk their lives on behalf of a nation -- those enlisted members, officers and civilians; people like you, people like me. As we approach Memorial Day, let's take time out to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to keep our nation safe.

Memorial Day is a U.S. federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May -- May 25 this year. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War -- it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the civil war -- it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action.