Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Category 5 General" Makes a Stop in Bossier City

Among the guest speakers at today's 2011 North Louisiana Travel Outlook Conference in Bossier City were Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne, whose opening speech began with a Boudreaux and Thibodeaux joke about Shreveport-Bossier casinos, and Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, known to many as the "Category 5 General" for the role he assumed in restoring order in New Orleans during the days immediately following Hurricane Katrina.

Lt. Gen. Honore spoke on the topics of American exceptionalism, leadership in crisis, and the importance of volunteerism. His advice to those in attendance: "Do the routine things well, don't be afraid to take on the impossible, and don't be afraid to act in the face of criticism." Honore said that these lessons were first taught to him by his mother, but that all three lessons - especially the bit about "taking on the impossible" - struck home as he was helicoptered into New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. As he spoke, it occurred to me that this man had once held the most difficult and perhaps the most-scrutinized job in the world as commander of Joint Task Force Katrina. What may have sounded like generic platitudes coming from a lesser person carried real weight coming from him.

One of the enduring images of Hurricane Katrina, for me, will always be that of Lt. Gen. Honore commanding a subordinate soldier to holster his weapon on the streets of New Orleans, reminding him that "we're on a peace-keeping mission, dammit!"

The North Louisiana Travel Outlook Conference is an annual event presented by the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau.

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