Respect the flag

Published 8:58 am Friday, March 25, 2011

Looking at the world today, it’s not hard to conclude that younger generations have not learned the importance of exhibiting the character trait of respect. Whether it’s respecting their elders, respecting the rights of others or respecting one another, finding examples of declining levels of respect among people of all ages is a simple matter of scanning the headlines of the day or catching any television or radio newscast.

It’s no longer a simple matter of young people not being raised to say “Yes, sir” or “No, ma’am.” Lack of respect shows itself in the violence that today’s culture accepts and even encourages, in the social interactions that people have, in the objectification of women that runs rampant on television and in the media, and even in the simple problem of litter, which lines the roads even after decades of public service campaigns designed to combat it.

Sadly, American society’s problem with respect extends to its treatment of the nation’s flag, a symbol of freedom, of sacrifice, of courage and honor and commitment. Look around next time you hear the national anthem played and see how many young people are facing the flag. Next time you hear the Pledge of Allegiance recited, notice how many people saluting, how many are saying the words, how many have removed their hats. How many people keep tattered flags hanging on their porches or from their car windows? How often are those tattered flags retired with dignity, instead of just being thrown away?

It might be a losing proposition to hope that young people ever will be taught again to refer to their elders as “Sir” and “Ma’am,” but if there’s anywhere that Americans should choose to draw a line in the sand in the fight to restore respect to their society, this is it. At the very least, as a symbol of the freedom that allows Americans of all ages to act disrespectfully (though not violently or illegally) toward one another, the American flag deserves its due regard from us all.