Schnathorst: Death of respect in America

The 9/11 terrorist attacks happened 19 years ago on this day.

Danny Schnathorst

The year is 2013, and my ancestors are turning over in their graves. Respect, which was once found on every corner in every city of the United States, has mostly flown out of the window. Now, while this does not apply to every single person, generally speaking, respect is nearly unheard of nowadays. I would do everything to go back in the time of my great grandparents’ day where respect was simply an automatic action and not just a facade that many people try to portray as part of their character.

I grew up responding to questions with a “no, ma’am” or a “yes, sir.” I didn’t think anything of it. I was taught that no matter what, you respect your elders, the people in charge and those around you. I never questioned my grandpa when he gave his money to the cashier at McDonald’s and said: “Thank you, ma’am” before walking away to his seat. I never questioned an older man that I once saw shaking hands with a 20-something military personnel and say: “Thank you, for your service, sir.” I was simply taught that this was the right thing to do and I cannot thank those who helped teach me my p’s and q’s enough.

When I came to Iowa State, I expected there to be more manners across campus. When someone holds the door open for me, I always thank them. When someone hands me something, I thank them. Too often do people just expect people to hold the door for them without a simple thank-you. That, to me, is just plain wrong. I was taught growing up to always thank the bus driver. I feel morally wrong if I get off a bus without a simple phrase that takes less than a second to say. I kid you not, I have heard maybe a total of five people express their gratitude so far this year.

For the past few years, the phrase “respect is earned, not given” has been circulating through the country, and I could not disagree more. Respect is given. Unless someone gives you a great reason not to trust them, every person has the right to your respect. Growing up on the south side of Des Moines has really opened my eyes to the unsurpassable amount of disrespect all around us today. For example, teachers are among those who are the most disrespected for no apparent reason. Teachers are the building blocks to the next generation. Regardless of if you do not like them as a person or not, you should always respect their position as a teacher. This also applies to bosses; no matter how they are as a person, you should respect their position.

The respect toward religion should always be, but rarely is, present everywhere. We live in a time where people are ridiculed for whether or not they believe in God, and to me that is just wrong. Whether you believe in a God is entirely up to you, but don’t you dare tell me that my religion isn’t real or prod me about my beliefs. My beliefs are my beliefs. Respect my beliefs, as I respect yours.

My biggest issue concerning respect is by far patriotic respect. This includes, but isn’t limited to, failure to remove hats during the national anthem, talking during the national anthem, talking poorly about your country and disrespecting military personnel.

I do hold our nation’s national anthem close to me as I think most people should. I get chills every single time I hear that familiar beloved tune. The national anthem is important because it shows our unity — our strength as a country. To not stand up and remove their hats is probably the most disrespectful thing you could possibly do in my eyes. People have fought and died for your freedom, the least you can do is stand during a three minute song.

When I was younger, I saw a World War II veteran sit in a wheelchair during the national anthem. It was one of the most moving things I have ever seen. The anguished desire in his eyes to stand up was incredible, his eyes welling up when hearing “that our flag was still there.” Step back and think of those who would give up everything to be able to stand up for those glorious words, and I promise you, you will never have a problem holding your hat again.