AFMC commander encourages Memorial Day reflection

Air Force Materiel Command -- As I look forward to the Memorial Day weekend, two thoughts are most prominent on my mind.

First, earlier this year I had the privilege of visiting our Airmen in Iraq and Afghanistan. In mid-May, I met more Airmen while touring Air Force bases in Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Serving side-by-side with their joint teammates, Airmen are making a lasting difference to the advancement of freedom and the safety and security of freedom-loving people. Some have lost their lives, paying the ultimate price in the service to those principles. As of April, more than 3,600 members of the U.S. Armed Forces have died in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Since World War I, Memorial Day has been a time to honor all those who died in service to our nation - from the Revolutionary War to the present. As this special day (May 28) approaches, please think for a few moments about its meaning and the freedom we all enjoy for which many have died.

To the families of our fallen heroes who gave their hearts in mourning to this country, I say "thank you." We owe you and your loved ones our gratitude and more.

Second, Memorial Day signals the beginning of what most of us know as the "101 Critical Days of Summer." This safety campaign, which continues through Labor Day, reminds us that we can't afford to lose focus on safety, on or off the job.

So enjoy the outdoor activities this Memorial Day weekend. But please remember that Memorial Day means more than the weekend when the pools open. Think how different our lives might be if it weren't for the dedication of those men and women who fell in service to our country.

I wish all of you in Air Force Materiel Command an enjoyable, and above all, safe, Memorial Day weekend.