Preparing for the work ahead

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Congress enacted legislation on June 28, 1894 to make Labor Day a federal holiday. Much like many holidays we celebrate, Labor Day was first established to recognize contributions made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our great nation by a special group of individuals -- the American worker. Over the years, the format of observance has undergone a number of changes. But one thing has remained consistent: Labor Day unofficially marks the end of a season and culminates the 101 Critical Days of Summer.

Overall, the Iceman Team has had a very safe and successful year. And for that, we should be proud and take time to celebrate this weekend. Labor Day is a great occasion to spend time with family and friends - to have a picnic, go camping, take a hike, embark on a road-trip, discover a new place, or just kick back, relax, and enjoy the last bit of summer. Most veteran Icemen will agree there are few places where it is vitally important to make the most of the mild temperatures of Labor Day weekend than here in Alaska.

As we return to work next week and look toward the future, we must prepare for what lies ahead. The days will continue to get shorter and cooler. The leaves and snow will soon begin to fall. Our routines and habits will change ... or at least they should. We must begin to think about coats, hats, gloves and survival gear. We must begin to think about picking up our hoses and yards, winterizing our vehicles as well as our lawns, and preparing our children - and pets - for the next phase of Alaska's beauty.

The PCS season is coming to a close and we have many new Iceman Teammates getting settled into Eielson. For our veteran Icemen, this carries a few responsibilities: 
1) to help our new teammates get prepared for the season ahead; 
2) to be cautious and courteous as all Icemen become acquainted or reacquainted with life in Alaska's winter season; and 
3) to be a positive model for others to follow. 

Likewise our new teammates have a responsibility to learn and abide by the unique requirements of life in Alaska and on Eielson.

First, all Icemen must adhere to the rules of the road: Obey all traffic signs and posted speed limits - especially in school and family housing areas. As the weather and daylight decline, slow down and remain aware of your surroundings. Similarly, pedestrians, bikers and all children must remain vigilant when in the streets -- they do not have the right-of-way.

Second, all Icemen must be prepared for the unexpected. Don't be lured into a false sense of security that you're just driving to work, the shoppette or North Pole. The unexpected can happen in an instant, and what would be an inconvenience anywhere else can quickly become a survival situation in Alaska.

Third, all Icemen must have and be a wingman. Watch out and care for each other. We're all on the same team.

Finally, whether over this Labor Day weekend or in the months ahead, be safe and have fun. Life at Eielson is truly what you make of it.