10 May 2011

Paying Respects in Mississippi

USMC Staff Sergant Jason Rogers
Paying your respects is an interesting phrase. The Cambridge dictionary defines it as:

- To visit someone in order to welcome them or talk to them. "We went to pay our respects to our new neighbors."

- To honor someone after their death, usually by going to their funeral. "Friends and relatives came to pay their last respects to Mr Clarke."

We seem to have forgotten what respect is all about. We think it is something someone has to earn. The man or woman sweeping up trash on the street doesn't desire a smile or greeting. We don't know them and we look down upon their job. They don't deserve our respect, right? Wrong.


Because of one's skin color, they can be ignored or held in contempt without seeing them as a person with a spirit. They are a walking agenda to be loathed, right? Wrong.

If someone goes off to fight a war we disagree with we should spend more time complaining about the Administration's decisions or promoting peace, right? Wrong.

While every person you encounter deserves your respect just for being human, we should respect military service men and women even more. Regardless of their reasons, they have chosen to help defend our country through tasks, operations, jobs, and training that many of us cannot imagine. Equally, many of us cannot imagine the pride families of service men and women experience when their father, mother, son, daughter, sister or brother serves in the military.

Nor can we imagine the pain of learning of their death. Many return to quiet ceremonies. Honorable burials. Long goodbyes.

Few are able to receive the homecoming USMC Staff Sergant Jason Rogers received when his body returned home to Brandon, Mississippi, on April 14, 2011. A graduate of Brandon High School (Class of 2000), Jason was killed in Afghanistan by an IED.

The video below was Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Elmo Townsend’s view as his dash cam recorded the escort from Airport Road and along Highway 80. Hundreds of onlookers gathered to pay their respects.

Born and raised in Mississippi, this amazing video doesn't surprise me. As much negative press as my state receives, I know that unless one has lived in Mississippi, one cannot understand how we think and see the world. Our way isn't backwards, simple, or ignorant. Those perceptions are from the entitled unfortunates who haven't taken time to literally stop and smell the roses.

Whereas one might think that streets should be lined for living soldiers deploying or returning home, in the South we see this person as a family member returning home and want to show his family and friends that we appreciate the sacrifice. That we're here to help. That we love and care.

Watch this video and thank the next solider you see for their service and sacrifice.

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