Bird's Eye View: Remember their sacrifice on Memorial Day

  • Published
  • By Col. Bryan J. Gallagher
  • 95th Air Base Wing commander
Monday, we take a day to remember all the men and women of the Armed Forces who gave their lives in the service of our country. 

Traditionally, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of each May. On this day, federal workers get the day off and families get together for picnics and sporting events. It's important to remember why we have this celebration in the first place; because servicemembers fought and died for our freedoms. 

Nationwide, there will be events specifically for remembering America's fallen heroes. In cemeteries, there will be ceremonies and memorial services. At Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., flags will be placed on each grave. President Bush is also scheduled to place a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns. I encourage you to seek out Memorial Day events near you and participate in them. 

Even if you aren't able to attend one of these events, there is still another way to pay tribute. 

The White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance, asks all Americans to observe a moment of silence at 3 p.m. local time Monday. Take the time to remember the actions of our lost Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines defending our country and our way of life. 

While many are marking this weekend as the unofficial start to summer, let's not forget the true meaning of Memorial Day - honoring the sacrifice of those who served before us. 

101 Critical Days of Summer begins today 

Memorial Day weekend also marks the beginning of the 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign. The campaign is so named because historically off-duty mishaps are more frequent between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day. 

During 2006, more than 90 percent of Air Force fatalities were off-duty mishaps. Although the numbers of fatalities decreased by more than a third, 18 members of the Air Force family lost their lives. This year, let's strive to keep bringing that number down. 

Your safety and the safety of others is a top priority of mine. 

Practicing good judgment goes a long way to preventing fatalities. Speeding, driving while tired and driving under the influence are all examples of bad judgment. If you are planning to attend a party and drink, make sure you have a way to get home without driving yourself. In addition to calling a taxi or a friend, the Airmen Against Drunk Driving program is available to you. There are no repercussions to your career for using it, but the repercussions to your life could be severe if you choose to drive drunk. Decide before you drink that you WILL NOT drive. 

Have a safe holiday weekend!