In word and deed, today’s society wanes in respect. Respecting your elders and honoring your father and mother are no longer a given. We talk back, miss curfews, overlook presidential addresses and the states comprising this union are divided. In previous generations, respect for one’s neighbors, family, country and values was ingrained in the daily fold. One may counteract this stance with the example of discrimination; however, while prejudice extends from society to the armed forces all are not prejudice. Conditioned to the view the world through one lens restrains the landscape. Stereotypes are meant to act as scripts to protect us, but to what extent do they hinder our horizons? As many of the previous generation exemplify, there is always a sense of hope; never get below the horizon such that you lose sight of the coming brighter days.
With the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 6, 1941, the United States became involved in World War II. As a nine year old girl in Paterson, New Jersey, my great Aunt Gladys recalls the period’s widespread nationalism as her community rallied around the nation’s war efforts. This sentiment likens to that support following the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Abiding by rationing laws, searching their household for metals, collecting newspapers and stripping the aluminum lining of cigarette packages for scrap metal drives, the nation banded together. My great-grandfather even organized people to donate blood to the Red Cross and took these out for ‘steak dinners’ to “build their blood up.” All were invested. Outside of school air raid practices and blackout strategies, Aunt Gladys felt the war did not directly encroach upon her young life but she vividly recalls the period’s sense of alignment and patriotism.
While many may not agree with U.S. involvement in World War II, Vietnam or even Afghanistan and Iraq, respect for the head of your country should not waver. Respect today varies. It is now possible to see the President depicted as an ape in circulating newspapers and admittedly, when George W. Bush held office it was a recurring event to watch his broadcasts simply to laugh at his missteps. This blatant disregard continues on to our daily lives. When did maintaining eye contact, slacks held at the waste, and cursing as a sailor but controlling your tongue a woman’s presence go out of style? Respect. More immediately, respect should extend to the person alongside you. Those holding similar values or having reason to act on one accord should do so as one unit.
My maternal family is a military family and the Vietnam War long, long enough for my grandfather Kit and his nephew Lamar to fight alongside one another. While the former was a member of the Air Force and the latter stationed aboard the U.S.S. Coral Sea, both witnessed the aircraft battles and heard calls over the radio as the U.S. scrambled for position near the DMZ. At the young age of seventeen, Lamar enlisted in the Navy,...