2015 | Week of May 18 – #1098
Watertown Mayor John David spoke briefly at my church this past Sunday. We were having our annual “Blue and White” service, a time when we recognize, respect and thank local law enforcement. Mayor David read a proclamation and then gave some comments. One statement he made especially caught my attention. He said something had happened in our society; people no longer have respect. The Mayor went on to talk about lack of respect for authority, lack of respect for private or even public property, lack of respect for other people in general.
I agree with Mayor David. We live in a day when respect is lacking in almost every area. Frankly, that’s largely because fewer Americans are living according to Christian standards. The Bible teaches us to respect authority, others and their property.
How does someone learn respect? Typically that teaching begins in the home, where mom and dad model respect and diligently train and teach their children in word and deed what respect looks like. It takes time, energy, and dedication. It requires purposeful, intentional instruction. It requires correcting and yes, sometimes, appropriately disciplining a child who is showing a lack of respect.
If we expect children to learn this important and basic concept outside of the home, we are likely expecting too much. Society isn’t equipped to teach this, especially today. Dads and moms need to take a much more involved role in this area and in many other areas. It’s time to get back to family dinners, family devotions, and family meetings. Learning respect begins at home.
For instance, do the young people in your life respect Memorial Day? Or is it just a Monday off? Or just the unofficial start to summer vacation? Or just a day when family and friends gather for a cookout and games? Seriously, if you asked a 5th grader or even a 3rd grader or a 10th grader why we celebrate Memorial Day and what it means, what answers do you think you’d get? Do your children really know what it means to respect those serving in the military or to respect the flag or to respect a fallen veteran?
Holidays provide some of the best teachable moments we have. I suggest to people all the time that they should host holidays if for no other reason that they get to set the schedule and to some degree the rules for the day.
With that in mind, consider this Memorial Day. How about a family trip to the local Memorial Day parade? Nearly every Wisconsin community has one. Talk about the branches of the military, why we stand when the United States flag goes by, why we clap when the cars go by with veterans in them, why flowers or a wreath is thrown into the lake or river, why Taps is played—explain it all.
Before dinner have someone in the family talk about Memorial Day. Include a discussion of family members both living and deceased who served in the military as examples of veterans. Discuss how much we owe these freedom fighters. Tell some history of this national holiday. If you have older teens, maybe have one of them do a poem or a reading. Have a word of prayer thanking God for those who have paid a price for our freedom, for the blessing of being an American.
One my favorite activities on Memorial Day is to take family members, including the kids, to a cemetery. We look at headstones to see if we can find any that were veterans and then we place a flower—usually a carnation—or a small American flag on those graves. We talk about the war the person served in and why we are putting the flowers or flags there. This is also a great time to help children learn to be respectful in a cemetery. Old, city cemeteries, which often have graves dating back to the Civil War era, are especially rich places for this activity.
Building respect into our own lives and the lives of the next generation requires some effort, but it has rich rewards. I hope you’ll take advantage of this Memorial Day to respect those who have paid the supreme sacrifice for our freedom and will also use this day to pass that respect on to those coming after you.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”