“On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.”
“On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty To God and my country”
― Boy Scouts of America
“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the president of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Our garage is full of stuff, as is the attic, and in the thick of it all is lots of Boy Scout stuff, Army stuff, a Girl Scout sash and memories of a fine Marine. Maybe it’s just stuff, but it signifies to me something greater — honor.
Honor is what made me promise to try, made my husband promise to do his best and assures every United States citizen that a military person will support and defend. Honor is a word that means “respect that is given to someone who is admired.” (Webster’s Dictionary)
I learned of a gentleman who was taking a trip to see a war memorial in Washington, D.C., and I knew immediately what he would be doing. I was teary-eyed as I asked about the trip. It hadn’t been that long ago that a friend had told me of a trip she took to see a war memorial in Washington, D.C., but she went as a guardian for a veteran who was flying. She had told me it was an Honor Flight, and I had no idea what she was talking about.
It turns out that in the past 10 years or so, an idea went from one man trying to help a few World War II veterans get to D.C. to see their memorial to a full-fledged program that has volunteers helping every step of the way to get every World War II veteran, and any terminally ill Korean or Vietnam War veteran (eventually every veteran) to see the memorials that were erected for them.
What a privilege to be able to bring respect to men and women who might not have felt respected when they came home from war, what an honor.
Synonyms for “honor” are “privilege,” “pride,” “exalted,” “esteem,” “distinction.” Honor isn’t reserved for military people, though. Honor is something an Egyptian, an American, an Italian, or a Frenchman (or citizen of any other country) might feel or have earned.
In a world where news tells us of people speaking poorly of others and people cheating, lying, and stealing, it is the perfect time to rethink how we want to present ourselves, how we want to be considered by others and, just as importantly, how we choose to regard others.
Today is a day to discover that you can attach honorable to the list of adjectives that describe you, whether you are 10 years old or 90.
So, you are setting out today to become an honorable person, worthy of your own and others’ esteem. How do you do that?
There is a standard idea of right and wrong in the world. Stealing is wrong. Speaking the truth is right. There will be gray areas depending on what is right and wrong in the society where you live.
I know people who have lied to park in a handicap spot, cheated on taxes and pretended they didn’t drink alcohol when they really did. While none of those might seem like life or death issues by which to decide if a person measures up to honorable, they are the kinds of actions that detract from and bring into question the character of the individual.
How do you feel about your own character? That’s who matters after all, you know…you. Be honest with yourself, speak the truth when you know you should, and do what you say you’ll do, and you’ll find that you feel like an honorable person. When others admire you and want to give you a gift because of your service, you can be certain that you have earned the privilege of being called honorable, and it’s about being true to who you hold yourself out to be, who you say you are.
When a man or woman has said that they will support and defend the Constitution of their country and they keep their word, they have earned honor, and being able to give them a gift of thanks is a privilege. In times when serving your country was not always a choice, men and women did what was asked of them in order to protect our Constitution and ultimately our freedom.
Treating all of that stuff with a new sense of appreciation for the honor represented will make cleaning out the garage and the attic a slower process. The stories held within the threads of the clothes and bags will require time to just listen.
It is not uncommon to hear stories of veterans who once stood tall, talked loudly and fought bravely to crumble in tears at the enormous sense of humility that cloaks them as they are flown, cheered, and thanked for service to their country.
“Honorable” is one of the most meaningful words I can think of, and it is an honor to write about something that I wish my own father were alive to enjoy and that more than 100,000 veterans have been able to experience. As Will Rogers said, and can be found on the Honor Flight site, “We can’t all be heroes. Some of us have to stand on the curb and clap as they walk by.”
We don’t have to be a Scout or serve in the military to be honorable. This week, maybe right in this moment, consider how you will place honorable in the list of adjectives describing yourself. Take time to speak to those who you consider honorable. And if bringing respect and joy to someone who has served your country interests you, please visit the Honor Flight site at www.honorflight.org.