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R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

July 19, 2012

By Ellen Mortensen, managing editor

One of my all-time favorite songs, the classic by Aretha Frankin, sums it up : “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.”
Back in the 1980s a comedian named Rodney Dangerfield made his mark on the world with a simple one-liner: “I just don’t get no respect. . . none at all!”
I had a conversation with a teenager a couple of years ago, during which she made a comment that took me by surprise: “I am not going to respect my teachers, or any other adults, just because they are older than me. They have to earn my respect.”
Yeah, I know, I couldn’t believe it either! It seems we are living in a society that is gradually losing respect - for ourselves and for others. I was given a dose of reality in that department Memorial Day weekend.
My daughter and I had visited the graves of her grandparents, all buried in Ansley, the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend, and she placed little solar lights on each grave. When I returned to the cemetery Thursday, just five days later, the lights on both graves were gone. It made me very angry, and very sad.
Unfortunately we have experienced the same thing at the Westerville cemetery, where numerous items have “disappeared” off of the grave of a beloved young man.
Talk about a lack of respect!!
I’ve witnessed it many times during the past few years - men neglecting to remove their hats during the singing of the National Anthem or reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, people talking in church or during a movie, young children talking back to their parents, or worse yet hitting their parents - and the list goes on of blatant exhibitions of a lack of respect.
But just when I was about to convince myself that respect is all but a thing of the past in our country - especially among the younger generation - I ran across a somewhat unlikely group of teenage boys who have renewed my faith. They are the Cozad Reds Juniors baseball team.
Many of you may already know what they did, but in case you don’t here it is. This group of young men showed up at a hospital room in Lincoln, at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, to pay a visit to a player on a rival team - Chad Christensen of Broken Bow. The entire Cozad team!
Tuesday night, July 3, Cozad and Broken Bow met on the field at Paul Brown Field in Broken Bow. And get this - the Cozad players were all wearing caps bearing the number 21 boldly across the front. Chad Christensen’s number.
At the conclusion of the game, the two teams met on the field where the Cozad players presented the Broken Bow players with matching number 21 caps, and all posed together for a photo.
The truth is, I can’t even tell you who won the game; our sports editor could, but to me that isn’t even what is important here. What is important is the RESPECT these young men displayed for a fellow athlete, for another human being.
I don’t know who’s idea it was - one of the coaches, one of the players, a parent - but that doesn’t really matter. It was an invaluable life lesson for all the players and for everyone who witnessed it or read about it.
Contrary to the idea expressed by that teenager a couple of years ago, respect is not something that has to be earned, it is something that has to be taught. All of us are being watched by someone, and the way we live our lives and treat others around us is setting an example for someone - whether we know it or not. Our children and grandchildren will learn to treat others with respect when they see us doing it.
The Cozad juniors baseball players may never know just how many people, of all ages, they impacted with their show of respect for another. I salute them for renewing my faith.

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