Esprit de cor. Patriotism. Respect. That’s what this weekend boils down to – Respect. It’s not an extra day off from work. It’s not the barbeques. It’s not a day to celebrate the beginning of summer. This day is a day of respect that I all to often fail to see.
This country stands for freedom and way too many people have died so that each and everyone of us can enjoy that freedom, a freedom that gives you the right to be an idiot. That’s right! You have the right to be a class A moron and there is not a dang thing I can do about it. The freedom that so many have died for, gives you the right to be disrespectful. And this country has come to a point where many have stopped caring.
Oh don’t get me wrong. We rise up in anger when someone burns the American flag. We see that one act of freedom of speech as a disgrace on the blood spilled for that freedom. Yet we don’t rise up in anger when we see a torn or tattered flag flying high on some bank or business’s flagpole. Why not? A torn or weather flag is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of this country, yet many do it anyways showing disrespect for that symbol. Why do we not rise in anger over this?
Most of our stomachs turn anytime we see or hear of Westboro Baptist Church picketing the funeral of a fallen soldier. Their warped sense of conscious is difficult for many of us to understand. Their blatant disrespect for the families and the lives lost leaves us spinning.
Yet our stomachs don’t turn when someone doesn’t take off his hat and show respect during the playing of our National Anthem. The removal of ones hat has always been a sign of respect, politeness and a sign of honor dating back to Egyptian times. But now many can't even remove their hats during the playing of our Anthem. I see this everywhere I go. Ballgames, concerts, Memorial services. When did we become a nation that accepts this as proper behavior? When did it become proper to show a lack of respect to the symbol of this country? Yes you have the right to show the disrespect and I would die protecting that right, but when did we lower our standards of our moral code?
I grew up in a home where respect was taught. Respect for this country was not a small issue. As a child, I was taught that when the American flag approached during a parade, I was to stand and if I was wearing a hat, I was to remove it. I didn’t have a choice. I was taught to respect the flag, the symbol of freedom and a symbol of the blood spilled for that freedom.
As a college freshman, I had the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery. I saw row upon row of markers placed to remember those individuals that lost their lives in the service to their country. It moved me in a way words can never describe. In my adult years, I have grown from that childhood requirement to a true passion to show respect for this country, all it’s symbols and the men and women who have given of themselves in the service of this country.
As an adult, I have come to appreciate the service my family has done. My dad is a veteran and my mom worked, back in the ‘60s, as a civilian for the Navy, not to mention the many others going as far back as the Civil War. I myself have served this country, not in the armed forces, but I served my community as a firefighter. After 9/11, no one can deny that firefighters, paramedics and police officers serve their country by serving here at home. I lost over 350 of my brothers and sisters on that day, men and women that died in an attack on this country.
One sad fact to emphasis the point that we have forgotten to respect those who have served this country, I had the pleasure to talk with a gentleman last year. He was a wrinkled, weathered old man in his 90’s. Nothing extraordinary about him, but the hat he wore grabbed my attention. The emblem of the military unit he had been attached to was emblazoned on the front. I stopped and asked him where he served and he told me he had been part of a 50 cal. gun crew in the European theater during WWII. He told me his story yet was extremely humble about it. He told me of the friends in his unit that didn’t make it. I reached out my hand to say thank you for his service and a look of surprise came upon his face. Not one person had EVER said thank you since he returned from the war. Sixty years and not one thank you! ARE YOU SERIOUS?! Tears came to my eyes and I could only shake my head in disbelief.
A couple years ago I attended the Memorial Day parade and service out in Plano, Illinois. As I waited for the parade to go by and see my daughter perform with the high school band, the color guard approached and I stood as I always have. I stood at attention and saluted the flag as I have done since my days on the fire department. Right behind the color guard was a military jeep with several local veterans. One old man caught me out of the corner of his eye. He turned and returned my salute. The smile on his face was priceless. My one act of saluting was enough to show him the respect he deserves.
This Memorial Day, please stop what you are doing and remember what this day truly is about. I ask you to take the time and show the respect that the men and women that died for this country deserve. Men, take off you hats. Tell your children to be quiet and teach them to show reverence during the playing of our National Anthem.
You may not agree with the politics of this country. You may not agree with the wars we have fought. But does any of that give you grounds to forget what Memorial Days truly means.
Thank you for keeping with this rant and if nothing else, I plead with you not to exercise your right to be disrespectful.
To all the families that have lost love ones on the field of battle,
defending the freedom that many take for granted,
in the service of their country,
I stand and salute you!
Want More? Receive updates right in your email box. It’s free and will never be used for spam. I don’t roll that way.
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. You can opt out at any time.