The term "decorated officer" is certainly one that applies to the gentleman chosen to speak at the Lake Charles Mayor’s Armed Forces Commission Veterans Day observance on Saturday.

Brigadier General Gary Brito is the commander of the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk. He has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He's served as a soldier, trainer, and in other capacities around the country and the world. His military biography is peppered with numbers from battalions, infantries, brigades, and regiments.

In "googling" General Brito, I ran across an article from his hometown of Hyannis, Massachusetts. A local reporter was interviewing him in 2014 as a hometown hero. The General took the time to send the reporter an email with a message for the youth of Hyannis. It was valuable for them. It's valuable for our young people. It's valuable for all of us, I believe. It reads:

1) Education is key. Finish high-school and go further if you desire. Whether a technical-skill or a Master’s degree, it will give you an amazing amount of upward mobility.


2) Tenacity–never quit!! This was a common saying from my Barnstable High School football coach.


3) Set goals and stick to them. Be persistent and good things will come. Give 100 percent towards accomplishing these goals. There will be setbacks but do not let these setbacks stop you or derail you. Aim to succeed in what ever you want to do. Do NOT let adversity or tough times get the way. Challenges can be overcome. Stay focused. Have patience and realize that success does not come quickly.


4) Be a person of strong values and good character. Integrity, honesty, discipline, and treating others with dignity and respect go along way. Every day, pass the mirror test! Your reputation is important.


5) Each day, make a difference. This is not an original statement; I am borrowing from an officer who recently spoke at a college graduation. Nonetheless, it holds true for all of us.

The Veteran's Day observance will take place at Lake Charles Veterans Memorial Park on Lakeshore Drive on Saturday, November 5, beginning at 10AM. The event this year will pay special tribute to Southwest Louisiana veterans. Following the ceremony, the public is invited to enjoy a free picnic lunch that will be prepared by local veterans organizations.

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