Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré brought to UWG a lifetime of wisdom and a sense of perspective as he challenged students to step up and solve the problems of the day.
“The problems we have today are minuscule compared to the challenges our forefathers had so we could sit here today,” Honoré told a crowd of about 400 at UWG's Coliseum on Sept. 20.
The problems — poverty, the need for clean water and efficient energy sources, among them — are opportunities, he said.
Technological innovations came from people who spent time dreaming of ways to solve problems, he noted.
“If they did it, you can do it,” Honoré said.
The challenges are not insurmountable compared to the ones faced by earlier generations, he said. He reminded the audience that Revolutionary War soldiers were fighting against the strongest army in the world at the time. And in all the wars that followed, neither soldiers nor their families had it easy.
“This freedom that we enjoy has been paid for not only in blood, sweat and tears, and lives, but also in treasure,” he said.
Treasure -- that is, financial sacrifices -- permit this generation of students to earn their college educations and to set out to surmount those challenges, he said.
“The work is not done yet,” he said. “And it’s going to be up to you to find some of the solutions.”
The former three-star general is best known for his command of relief efforts following hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. News video of him on the streets of New Orleans ordering soldiers to lower their weapons was seen around the world. His presence established a sense of order being restored to the devastated communities. Ray Nagin, then the mayor of New Orleans, called him a “John Wayne dude.”
Honoré retired in 2008 after a distinguished 37-year career in the United States Army. In 2009, he released a book, “Survival: How a Culture of Preparedness Can Save America and You from Disasters.”
His talk opened and closed with standing ovations. Honoré was the third speaker in the BB&T Lecture Series in Free Enterprise.
If you missed the lecture, you can watch it in full. Lecture begins around the 29 minute mark.