The word honor is derived from the Latin word Honos and has a variety of meanings. As a verb, the word can be defined as keeping an agreement. It can also be defined as doing what is morally right. Moreover, Honor shapes the lives of people and it can be understood in everyday life through the words and actions. A person’s honor is supported by what he or she utters and actions. Failure to keep one’s word is a breach of honor and it strips the person of his or herintegrity. According to Cox, an essential component of honor is to have the rank that is respected by those around your surrounding and for the individual to reciprocate respect to everyone else above and below him/her on the social scale(38). For example, one of Washington’s maxims covered the etiquette for having a houseguest, and not doing so carries the risk of insulting someone’s sense of honor.
To one that is your equal, or not much inferior you are to give the chief Place in your lodging and he to who ‘tis offered ought at the first refuse it but at the Second to accept though not without acknowledging his own unworthiness (Cox, 38).
Perhaps, the greatest honor is in serving one’s country of birth. Soldiers dedicate their lives to serving and honoring the Country they represent. One of the most common beliefs among military men is that it is better to die with honor rather than living with shame. Different soldiers have displayed various acts of honor over the years. For example, during the confusion caused by the operation crusader, Rommel, a German general and his troops encountered enemy territory several times. On one occasion, they visited a New Zealand Army field hospital which was not only under enemy control but also overcrowded with injured and sick persons. The general inquired if anything was needed, and he was issued a list of supplies that the hospital required urgently. He promised to provide medical supplies and was allowed to leave, unharmed. Later, he returned and provided the promised medical supplies to the unit, thereby honoring his word. He was not forced or coerced into doing the act. An act of honor requires courage and integrity.
A person’s code of honor is the values and principles that he or she has decided to respect and uphold at all times throughout his or her life. Perhaps the simplest definition of honor is exemplified by the family unit. Elders and parents have earned the honor of being respected by the children of the family. Moreover, honor is earned by benefiting others and pursuing righteousness. The bible also recognizes the value of the virtue in question within a family unit. For example, the phrase, “honor your father and mother so that you may live longer” (Blidstein, 12) shows the worth of honor is long life. Furthermore, Honor cannot be bought, traded, or sold. It is only gained by earning the utmost respect from people. The price of honor is great and can cost someone his or her life. Honestly, the world would be a much better place if every individual would live by and uphold the standards reflected in the Air Force Honor Code. The most tragic thing of all is a man of genius who lacks honor.
Cox, Caroline. A Proper Sense of Honor: Service and Sacrifice in George Washington’s Army. Chapel Hill (N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 2004. Print.
Blidstein, Gerald J. Honor thy father and mother: Filial responsibility in Jewish law and ethics. Vol. 1. KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 2005.