James Bowman's "Honor: A History" speaks to the disappearance of honor in conduct in our American society today. To bring the term to modern day life, he looks at America's use of honor as cause and justification for going to war and for serving in the armed forces.
It may be forgotten by today's politicans but members of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations revered the toughness of American's foreign affairs and thought national honor as a principal reason for fighting in Vietnam. With the conclusion of the war in Vietnam and President Nixon's use of the term "peace with honor", honor slipped to mean this is all we can take, we're done here.
In Western society personal honor and national honor were hand in hand as part of a fighting spirit. Over time, appeals to national honor no longer worked to unite a country. Persistence in right action, despite cost, seems an outdated idea.
An example of honor and courage in the news today is Debra Burlingame, the sister of pilot Chic Burlingame. Burlingame's hijacked jet crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11. An op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal almost a year ago began the public fight to end the mistake of the International Freedom Center. She leads the fight to ensure an appropriate 9/11 memorial and museum at gound zero.
The funds the memorial and museum were about to experience had own hijacking to create a museum that is politically correct in today's world. It was to include everything from slavery to the Halocaust. We have to be tolerant of the enemy who wishes us dead, you understand. We have to understand the reasons of their hate. And now Mayor Bloomberg wants a "sensible" approach to ground zero rebuilding. He suggests locating the World Trade Center Museum in the Freedom Towers, declaring it a good use of the lobby. So, the story of the day of September 11, 2001 would be put into another commercial office tower. Cramming it into a small space is not an honorable course of action.
After much public outrage and a campaign of letter writing and commercials airing on television, as well as an internet campaign, the International Freedom Center was taken off the drawing board. The $2.8 billion in cash grants to the city and the State of New York to raise buildings and bring back neighborhoods and businesses is long gone. Spent.
Ms. Burlingame is still leading the effort, almost 5 years later, to honor those who lost their lives in lower Manhattan that day. Citizens from all over the world as well as all political ways of thinking were lost that day. Where is the sense of honor shown at Normandy with the placing of all those white crosses in recognition of the brave souls of D-Day? Cramming a memorial into an office lobby hardly seems fitting.
"Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you." - H. Jackson Brown, Jr.