Tobie Blanchard | 6/24/2006 1:43:26 AM
Ten months ago, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honore was charged with overseeing the relief efforts after the worst natural disaster to hit the United States – Hurricane Katrina.
Last night (June 22) he told a group of 4-H’ers the leadership and values he learned as a 4-H’er "brought aid and safety to thousands along the Gulf Coast."
Honore, a native of Pointe Coupee Parish and a 34-year veteran of the Army, was the keynote speaker at the final session of the LSU AgCenter’s 4-H University.
"4-H is the reason I am here today," Honore said to the crowd of about 3,500 4-H Club members, parents, leaders and volunteers gathered from across Louisiana.
The three-star general grew up on a farm in Lakeland, La. One of 12 children, he credits 4-H with showing him a world beyond the cotton and sugarcane on the family farm.
"In 1962, I took my first trip out of Louisiana on a yellow school bus – and that was with 4-H," Honore told the crowd gathered at the LSU Pete Maravich Assembly Center. "Tonight I came here on a $40 million jet."
As a youngster, Honore participated in the dairy project and had a top-winning Guernsey. "She taught me that if you want to lead, you’ve got to learn how to follow," he said of that cow.
The general spoke specifically to the youngsters about the positive influence 4-H had on his life. And he praised his 4-H agent as "being the most influential person in my life next to my father."
Honore currently is the commanding general at Fort Gillem, Ga. He previously served as the commander of the Joint Task Force-Katrina – leading the Department of Defense’s response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"I came back to the state at a trying time," he said. "Those lessons of compassion and commitment I learned in 4-H were helpful as we dealt with the aftermath of Katrina and Rita."
Honore said 4-H taught him to be a leader, and he said his leadership skills helped him organize the relief efforts in the months following the 2005 hurricanes.
To the more than 1,500 young people gathered, Honore offered himself as a witness to what they could achieve in life with the values learned in 4-H.
"You will be judged by your character. 4-H builds character," he said.
With all the success he has had in his career, the decorated general said he has not forgotten his roots – calling himself a life-long 4-H’er.
"I am proud to be from Louisiana. I am proud to be a 4-H’er. I am proud to be a soldier," he concluded.
Writer: Tobie Blanchard at (225) 578-5649 or email@example.com