Show some RESPECT

Pamela Morello

Recently it seems as if I am one of only a few people who was raised with manners and respect for others. I’m not claiming to be perfect, we all have our flaws, but I pride myself on my manners and respect for the people who are around me.
This past weekend I participated in a trip to Washington, D.C. sponsored by Hillel and Shades. The trip was meant to be educational in nature, as we would be visiting the Holocaust Museum to learn more about our history and the Jewish culture.
During this trip I encountered some of the most disrespectful people I have ever met. As I walked along the exhibits of the Holocaust Museum, displaying evidence of the most horrifying part of our history, I heard people laughing and discussing their plans for next weekend. Others were running around and pushing through crowds of people. I was absolutely shocked by the behavior I was witnessing.
Walking into the Holocaust Museum should be equivalent to walking into a church or a temple. I would never walk into a church laughing and running around. There is a level of respect that should be maintained when you enter certain places.
The museum is a tribute to those people who died, as well as survived, the Holocaust. One would think that the gravity and seriousness of this subject would provoke a feeling of compassion and understanding from people. All I saw was disrespect.
On the trip we also visited the Vietnam Memorial. All along the wall people leave flowers and letters to their loved ones. The same immature behavior at the museum followed at the memorial. People were laughing and joking, and even picked up the letters on the ground and read them.
Those letters are the private thoughts and feelings of people who have felt the loss of the war and were not meant to be read by whatever strangers happened to pass along. Once again, I felt that this situation commanded something as simple, but necessary, as respect for the dead victims.
Our last stop was the Arlington National Cemetery where thousands of America’s soldiers and their families are laid to rest, as well as the graves and eternal flame for President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
I felt awkward walking among those who were peacefully laid to rest, as a stranger. I behaved with the utmost respect for those who have died. Still some others behaved in the same disrespectful manner. Signs everywhere that said “Respect and Silence,” were blatantly disregarded as people pointed at the graves of JFK and his late wife, and talked about them as if they knew them personally.
Maybe I am the only one who sees something wrong with these behaviors. I felt that the trip should have been about learning, quiet meditation and reflection, and RESPECT for others.