Disrespect runs rampant in today’s society. Since entitlement is the new catch phrase or lifestyle, people seem to think that rules, policies, and suggestions for peaceful coexistence simply shouldn’t apply to them. Examples surround us and saturate us throughout our daily lives, as I’m sure a few surfaced in your heads at the mere mention of the topic. But recently, one such example stood out for me in stark, sad reality.
The battleship Arizona Memorial located in Pearl Harbor stands as a solemn graveyard marking the site of ultimate sacrifice. That fateful day in December 1941 brought the death of 1,177 servicemen upon that ship alone. The memorial serves as the sunken cemetery for those who were never retrieved as well as a monument to this countries loss and fortitude. Visiting this memorial is a humbling, tear invoking experience that brings clearly to heart and mind the vague textbook lessons we learned in school. It stands a stark, vivid reminder of the tragic loss of life of fathers, brothers, sons.
In order to visit the memorial, a line forms in the early hours of the day for those hoping to obtain one of a limited number of tickets to board a Naval shuttle boat. If you were fortunate enough to obtain this ticket, you then proceed to a waiting area where a docent reviews that fateful day in history, its significance and the solemn nature of the memorial. With this he asks for respect for the setting. Since some people obviously don’t know what it means to be respectful anymore, he underscores the reverence of what we are there to see and attempts to impart that importance to the crowd. He then outlines two simple rules. Two. First, silence all cell phones and refrain from texting, phone calls and the such; Second, do not stop, pause, congregate or gather on the gangways to or from the boat shuttle–form a single line and walk.
With that in mind, we set off to see what we are there to see. Within minutes we arrive at the site of the wreckage, dock and disembark. Within seconds both rules are not ony broken, but shattered.
Throughout the tour of the monument, the docent’s requests amount to nothing; silent reverence is disturbed by laughter, selfies, running, playing, and enough electronic noise to fill a stadium. The docent’s lecture at the wall of names of those entombed is interrupted multiple times with ring tones, typing and telephone conversations. It was enough to confuse the tears of reverence with tears of disappointment in what we’ve become.
Memorials all around this country are, and should be, humbling experiences where thoughts of great men and women who have died for a good country are brought to the forefronts of our minds. It is a sad state of affairs that those same memorials highlight the lack of respect for ourselves and others that now defines this country and serves as an example of what we’ve become to not only our youth, but also to all the other countries around the world. I write this as a heartfelt apology to those who served, continue to serve and the families that love them.