By Phil MansonNovember 27, 2007
ATLANTA (Army News Service, Nov. 27, 2007) - Telling his young audience of more than 1,000 students to "learn the concept of discipline and lead disciplined, ethical lives," Lt. Gen. Russel L. HonorAfA, commanding general, First Army, was an award recipient and featured speaker at the 2007 4-H National Convention held here last night.
Lt. Gen. HonorAfA, himself a lifetime 4-H'er, received the 2007 Friend of National 4-H Congress Award for his unwavering support and admiration of the 4-H clubs throughout America.
Growing up in the small town of Lakeland, La., the general said joining the local 4-H club was the first outside activity he ever did.
"When I was in high school, every Friday we wore our 4-H club uniform, which at that time was all white," he recalled. "Now, in Louisiana in the 1960's, it took a lot of courage to wear an all-white outfit. When I was a senior, 4-H went to a green jacket, and you don't know how happy we were about that."
On a more serious note, Lt. Gen. HonorAfA talked about what 4-H has meant to him through the years.
"The lessons I learned in 4-H have stayed with me to this day. 4-H taught me not where to start, but where to finish. It taught me the concept of discipline and that has stayed with me because today I am an American Soldier," he said. "I am the embodiment of the American Dream; a poor farm boy from Louisiana who, through hard work and discipline, rose to one of the highest ranks in the United States Army. I would not be where I am without 4-H."
Lt. Gen. HonorAfA related a story from his 4-H days.
"We had one cow, a mix between a Guernsey and Jersey, which weighed about 900 pounds. It took a lot of time and effort to teach that cow how to stand in a ring correctly and not get spooked by all those people," he explained. "That cow couldn't win best in state because it was a mixed-breed, but we did win other awards against farms that had 500 head of cattle. That is the discipline and perseverance 4-H taught me."
Lt. Gen. HonorAfA also had advice for his young audience.
"America needs you to be proud to be Americans," he said. "The world needs you to be successful, to be the next generation of leaders. If you don't like the way things are now, just wait a few years and you'll be in charge.
"We live in a new normal. We could have an earthquake tomorrow, or another hurricane or a terrorist attack," Lt. Gen. HonorAfA continued. "I need you to help create a culture of national preparedness and to be prepared for disasters before they hit.
"This Christmas, don't buy grandma and grandpa another tie or a box of candy; buy them a weather radio that will wake them up at 3 a.m. when bad weather is approaching. That is the kind of easy, common-sense idea that helps develop the disaster-preparedness mindset."
In closing, the general charged the 4-H'ers to find solutions to three great problems facing the world today.
"Somewhere in this room is a person who will grow up to be an engineer who will solve our dependence on fossil fuel," he said. "Somewhere in this room is a person who will grow up to be a research scientist who will find a cure for the infectious diseases that plague mankind. And all of you must work to bring about religious, political and ethnic harmony in the world or the first two tasks will be for nothing. Keep up with your education, keep up with your 4-H clubs, and keep living a great, ethical life."
(Phil Manson serves with First Army Public Affairs.)