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So much more than a long weekend

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- All across the United States, Americans will gather together this weekend to host a neighborhood or family cookout, play in a softball tournament, check out the shopping specials at the mall or pack the car up and head to the beach.

There is nothing wrong with doing any of these things, but I ask that you take some time to remember Memorial Day is not just another long weekend. It is so much more.
It is a time when Americans around the world - veterans and non-veterans alike - should remember the hundreds of thousands of service members who have fallen in combat during the 232-year history of our nation, and pay much-deserved homage to the men and women who gave their lives to preserve the liberties we all benefit from today.

Even today, our worldwide military forces are at risk while fighting the Global War on Terror, and some have recently paid the ultimate sacrifice - do not forget to include them in your thoughts. So during your festivities this weekend, please take the time to appreciate the blessings of freedom and pay respects to our fallen heroes, from all generations.

The very underpinnings of Memorial Day emphasize an abiding truth - the deep commitment of our most valued resource - our people. Therefore, as we enter into our "101 Critical Days of Summer", I ask each you to pay special attention to an enemy that we face that can strike home better than any terrorist - complacency!

We do a great job managing risks in the work environment, but your "downtime" is the proven time when we face the greatest risks for injury and accidents. Be vigilant and know that the slippery slope of complacency can turn a marginally safe incident into a real tragedy!

Take time to read and absorb the "101 Critical Days of Summer" objectives to protect and take care of our most precious resource in the Department of Defense - and that is our people. That means each and every one of you.

I ask you to be on your guard, to be careful, and to take care of yourself, your loved ones and your Wingman! Just like the last 232 years, we need all of you as "full-up rounds" to ensure the endurance of our freedoms! Go Sharks!