Lt. Gen. Xavier T. Brunson gave remarks regarding the importance of service and opportunity
The commanding general of I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord visited Vancouver and the Vancouver Barracks on Friday, reminding guests of the importance of opportunity and service.
Lt. Gen. Xavier T. Brunson said he is just like everyone else.
“I’m someone’s son, someone’s husband, someone’s father, someone’s friend, and I chose to serve the nation this way,” he told Clark County Today, just moments after thanking the mayor of Vancouver and the Community Military Appreciation Committee.
CMAC invited Lt. Gen. Brunson to the Red Cross Building at the barracks to give a brief talk about the benefits of serving. The general also thanked veterans and noted how he appreciated Vancouver and Clark County’s positive relationship with the military.
In all, men and women representing more than 30 organizations in Clark County signed up for the reception. Before he gave his remarks, Brunson met with every single one, asking their name and their relationship with the military. Most in the room were veterans themselves or married to veterans.
Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle thanked the general for making it to Vancouver, a two-hour drive south of JBLM.
“This area has the feel, the love of the military,” McEnerny-Ogle said. “And it goes back so many centuries.”
She noted that when CMAC put out the invitation for the general’s reception, people representing 37 organizations wanted to come, to share their love for the military, and to welcome the general.
She added that Vancouver and Clark County do not just love the area’s history with the military.
“It’s the present. And it’s the future,” the mayor said.
Temple Lentz gave a brief history of Vancouver’s installation. Lentz is the president and CEO of the Historic Trust, which manages the grounds for the Vancouver Barracks.
“The military has been an important part of this community since this community began,” Lentz said.
Vancouver Barracks, known as Camp Vancouver back then, was established in 1849 — the first U.S. Army post in the Pacific Northwest.
On Friday, this community was one again embracing one of the military’s top leaders.
Brunson was all smiles when he was introduced, even saying that as a three-star general, he has no reason to be grumpy. He also said he likes to make fun of military leaders who scowl in their official photos. He doesn’t like to scowl.
He appreciated this invitation, as well as a future invitation that the mayor extended, hoping he could stay longer and learn more about Vancouver’s unique military history.
He then transitioned into the importance of serving.
Recently, he was in a place in the state where the Army is not exactly embraced. He was talking with educators in that city.
“I talked to them about the opportunities that are inherent to the service of the nation. I also reminded them that we are a constitutional republic. If you are a part of the republic, you owe to the nation. That’s how you stay a republic,” Brunson said.
He then asked them if they are against the Army or against opportunity.
If anyone is against the Army, that’s something he can deal with, the general said. Agree to disagree without being disagreeable, he added.
“If it’s against an opportunity, I have a fundamental problem with you not offering an opportunity,” Brunson said.
He also noted there are many ways to serve, emphasizing a need for young people to be there for their communities, their families, and their friends.
“They’ve got to seize this,” Brunson said. “It’s not enough to be a member of the republic, to be a member of a state or town. You’ve got to serve those.”
It is not necessarily about serving in the armed forces, though.
“What I do care about is they serve their communities and they serve willingly,” Brunson said.
He thanked all who showed up to hear him talk, and then he remained in the Red Cross Building to meet with everyone again.
“It’s just an extension of us lowering our gates so that America can see America’s Army,” Brunson said. “It’s important for them to understand that there are no selfish people in the Army, whether they want to be or not. They are doing something for people who can’t do it for themselves.”
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