FP CLINGENPEELIf there is one thing that I hope I have taught my children, one lesson that I hope they have listened to and have taken to heart, it is respect for greatness. Respect for the flag of our great country. Respect for those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Respect for those who have accomplished so much by hard work and determination. All signs of greatness!

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My Turn: Respect for greatness

Published 8:06pm Saturday, May 10, 2014

One of my favorite activities is to simply shake the hands of people that have touched greatness. For example, back in 2006, I was able to shake the hand of then FBI Director Robert Mueller. I have also shaken hands with countless military and law enforcement veterans over years. Why do this, you ask? Well, out of respect! And a little out of a hope that I might be a better person for the encounter. I have a list in my head of people that I hope to one day meet. People that have answered a special call at a special time. Some of these individuals might seem controversial. I’d like to shake former President George W. Bush’s hand. I’d also like to shake current President Barack Obama’s hand. Politics aside. It’s the journey that these people took, their overall footprint on history that fascinates me.

Unfortunately, there are people that I can no longer meet. Those that are no longer with us. Those that I cannot show how much I appreciate, honor, and respect them for their sacrifice. Those whose lives were cut short. Those whose final memories were of loved ones they can no longer protect or enjoy. No more moments of peaceful companionship on a Saturday morning in the spring listening to the birds sing through open windows. The greatest portion of these people were either in the military and/or law enforcement.

The older any person gets, it is my strong belief that respect is the number one thing that is expected from others. Fine. If a person has never humbly shown respect, should they ever be respected? In my line of work I’ve heard it said that to get respect, you have to give respect. Sounds great! But let’s add into that equation what each person brings to the table, and what the other person might potentially bring to the table later in life. Greatness comes in all shapes, sizes, genders, and ages.

Lastly. There were those times in my youth that I did not show the proper amount of respect to my elders. I am oh so thankful for those kicks in the pants (usually proverbial) delivered by those who knew how important the concept of respect was. I deserved each and every one.

F.P. Clingenpeel, is Chief of Police, Belhaven Police Department.


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