As we commemorate our military personnel for their ultimate sacrifice this weekend, I am reminded of just how important it is to honor both the deceased and the living. Of course nothing trumps the sacrifice of laying down one’s life so that others are privileged to enjoy the freedoms of a democracy. We are truly blessed to have such opportunities in the United States. Despite our many problems, we still live in the best country in the world. One only has to travel to other regions of the globe or even read news headlines to know that this is true. I can tell you first-hand how fortunate Americans truly are based on my own personal travels and living in Europe for a time- as exciting as it was to see and experience other cultures, there truly is no place like home. Yet, I do see a trend that is disturbing and makes me wonder what the future holds for our beloved nation.
You don’t have to look too far to know what I’m talking about. Turn on the television, read the same newspapers, or go on social media. You will hear or see almost instantaneously folks being “dishonorable”, whether it’s reporting false news and/or saying mean-spirited things to others . Spirits are being broken and disrespect is the norm. People talk over one another instead of thoughtfully considering what the other person is saying. It’s OK to “agree to disagree”! It’s the dismissive, disrespectful way in which it is done that is so troubling. It’s a “me” first attitude- I don’t care about you or what you say or do. Can you imagine our soldiers conducting themselves in such a manner?! Our country would indeed be a very different place today if that were true. These qualities are the antithesis of who are military are and how they are trained. Respect, honor, dignity, and sacrifice are the creed of those who protect our country. These are also wonderful character traits of an outstanding town or neighborhood when it’s residents practice these principles.
The definition of “honor” is high respect, great esteem. Each one of us is worthy of these things and in turn, should demonstrate the same to others. Our special children are just as worthy of honor as anyone else, just by being themselves! Tireless advocating, educational/social opportunities, and familial/community support has made this possible for them. It has not been easy and continues to be a work in progress, but the way the world sees and includes disabled people has absolutely improved, even over the past decade. Sadly, I have occasionally witnessed and personally experienced disrespectful behavior towards Brian within the special needs community. This especially hurts, as you would never expect it to occur “amongst your own”, but it does happen. Fortunately this is the exception more than the rule.
How do I want to honor my son and others with disabilities? Let me count the ways…
1. People First- Disabilities Second! We are all part of the same human race with feelings, interests, and hopes, regardless of how small or significant one’s disabilities may be…
2. Sacrifice- Tireless efforts to improve our children’s quality of life, medically, educationally, and socially speaking, is our life’s mission that forces us to be on the front lines for a lifetime. We sacrifice tremendously, often at our own expense, physically, personally, and financially, but it is the honorable thing to do.
3. Advocacy- this reality is a given with a disabled child, whether we like it or not. Just like a soldier who would defend his brother in arms, we parents must always do the same when it comes to our special children’s rights. Because I honor my son, I will do my best to make sure he receives what he needs to live his best life. I may not always be successful in my attempts, but I will ultimately persevere and try to make things right because Brian’s life is worth this kind of dignity.
4. Loyalty- Our kids need our faithfulness and devotion in all things that we do for them, a tall order to fill indeed, as it will be for a lifetime. I often shudder and become overwhelmed if I ponder this thought for too long… so I try to to take things “one day”, sometimes “one moment” at time. I’m sure our soldiers in the trenches have often had similar thoughts.
5. Love- ” There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). This is the ultimate act of honor; your love and respect for your country and your family is such a powerful force that such self- sacrifice is possible. Brian brings that force out in me and Jim. We know many parents just like us. Love is a God-given gift that makes all things possible, especially the impossible! And the love our kids give back to us in return- there are no words to describe such sublime, honorable moments, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything!
Wishing you many loving, honorable moments with your family and friends this weekend and always. Thanks for reading! 😊