Memorial Day: Our heroes are not forgotten

  • Published
  • By Col. Donald J. Halpin
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander

On this Memorial Day, we remember, honor and give thanks to those who died in service to this nation. Originally called Decorations Day, following the end of the American Civil War, it was not until 1971 when Congress passed the National Holiday Act designating the last Monday in May as Memorial Day that it took its current form. It is the one day we honor all of the brave men and women of our armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the freedom we hold so dear.

As we prepare to pay respect to those who died serving our country, we should ensure we do not carelessly add to their number.

The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are designated as the 101 Critical Days of Summer. This is the period when the Air Force has the highest loss of life as a result of traffic and recreational mishaps. During the coming holiday and summer months, outdoor activities and driving periods associated with vacations can often end in tragedy.

Implement risk management in all your activities. Identify hazards that have the potential for injury or possibly even death, i.e., driving for 13 hours after working a full day's shift; swimming in unknown waters; not using flotation devices; or mixing alcohol with driving or recreational activities. Ask yourself a lot of "what ifs" about the activities that you participate in, especially if this is your first time. Are the benefits gained worth the cost? If the answer is "no," don't do it!

Our goal this summer is zero reportable injuries. We can do this by acting responsibly and thinking before we act.

On this Memorial Day, at 3 p.m., wherever you are, be sure to pause and participate in the National Moment of Remembrance established by Congress. This is a moment reflection and an opportunity to demonstrate your gratitude for those who died for us.

Let's continue to make sure these heroes are never forgotten - on this day and every day.