By Ed Brock
Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, commander of the U.S. 1st Army, recalled a story about the sheep and the sheep dog.
The sheep stand in the field all day, eating and doing what sheep do, while from time to time the sheep dog runs around and barks at the sheep, Honore told the crowd at the annual Veterans Day luncheon at Army Garrison Fort Gillem on Thursday.
“The sheep's opinion is, we give the master our wool, he eats us, he sells us, and yet he favors this sheep dog,” Honore said. “But the purpose of the sheep dog is in case and when the wolf comes. And the wolf dog, even though he is despised by the sheep, will go after that wolf.”
In much the same way, soldiers lay down their lives for society. And like soldiers the sheep dog sometimes doesn't come back.
“It's up to the master, the people, the community to take care of that sheep dog, because like 9/11 taught us, you never know when that wolf is going to come,” Honore said.
Today the sheep dogs are in Iraq and Afghanistan, but their families remain behind.
“Young families, in many cases poor families,” Honore said. “We want you to take care of the sheep dog's family.”
The Military Affairs Committee of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce hosted the luncheon. Most people who came to the Getaway Club at Fort Gillem were either active military, National Guard and Reserve members, civilian employees at the fort or veterans.
Honore, who recently returned from commanding the rescue mission in New Orleans that followed Hurricane Katrina, also said that roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan kill and injure American soldiers but they aren't the real target.
“The target is you, to break the will of the people,” Honore said.
In fact, that very gathering would be a prime strategic target for the enemy in the global war on terrorism, Honore said.
And yet there remains a problem with recruitment for the military, Honore said. There are soldiers all around, he added, and they just need a little encouragement.
Honore's speech moved 69-year-old Army veteran Wes Southern of Jonesboro who did two tours of duty in Vietnam.
“It really inspires me to hear that we've got to really get down and do something about this,” Southern said. “We've got to inspire the young people to do their part.”