Lessons of Respect

By | June 22, 2022

[June 22, 2022]  My mother used to tell me to learn all I could about history because “its value far exceeds its fun factor.”  That was her way of acknowledging that the topic of history was probably boring to a child but its importance to me as a man was high.  My first recollection of this came up in my education on the Golden Rule and treating others with the respect they deserved.

I grew up with Korean War veterans who were young men recently returned from the war.  Listening to them talk about their experiences was exciting and I, unknowingly, was learning about the history of a war that would in due course determine more about how America and the world responds to terrorism.

Those veterans were anxious to tell those of us in our small community (note: we didn’t have a traffic signal) that one of the reasons Korea was such a terrible war was that leadership of the United States had grossly underestimated the tenaciousness of the North Korean soldier.  Our veterans told us about how their officers initially were dismissive of the “little people” of Korea.

If we were to go back in time to another war, the U.S. Revolutionary War, there is a story with a similar theme.  General George Washington had recently been appointed by Congress to lead the war effort against the British Empire.  His rank of “General” would not be recognized by the British since it would have legitimized the colonies independence.

The English Flag officers had little respect for the ragtag force of Continental soldiers.  But as British General William Howe opened early peace negotiations General Washington himself refused to accept the British dispatch.1  The reason?  The dispatch failed to use the title “General.”  This forced the British into open warfare and, as we know now, the rest is history.

A lack of respect is a symptom of the uneducated mind.  While respect doesn’t imply that you must like someone or some group of people, it does require us to acknowledge their importance and successes.  The U.S. military has done a much better job at instilling this lesson in its members since the Korean War and is part of the U.S. culture to respect others.

I learned a lot from those Korean War veterans.  During my time in combat I always had respect for the enemy (and others, of course).  In doing so, I never underestimated the enemy’s determination or capabilities.  Instilling that way of thinking in others will be was a big part of your future successes.


The incident happened on this date, July 17, 1776: http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/congress-learns-of-war-of-words


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “Lessons of Respect

  1. Audrey

    Respect is not the same as either slavish obedience or simple politeness. Having sincere respect for someone means you don’t say one thing to his or her face and another in secret. Nor does it require absolute acquiescence to a person (even an authority figure) who asks you to do something you believe to be illegal or morally wrong.

  2. mainer

    We all have ideas about how best to be a ‘good person.’ Gen. Satterfield has done this in spades with this blog. I say that as all human beings are, in my view, creatures of God’s design, we must respect all other human beings. That does not mean I have to agree with their choices or agree with their opinions, but indeed I respect them as human beings. 👀

    1. Veronica Stillman

      Great comment, mainer! I see that you have been on this site now for a couple of weeks. Have you been getting much out of it. Has Gen. Satterfield made a difference?

        1. Liz at Home

          “Leadership must always be about improving. Leadership requires practice. Practice must be deliberate and involve all those traits we normally think of when we have the passion to be the best at what we do.” — Gen. Satterfield

  3. Wendy Holmes

    And the greatest lesson that mom ever taught me though was this one. She told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected. Now she said to always pick being respected.

  4. Stacey Borden

    Amazing, loved the article. Thanks Gen. Satterfield for providing us with a daily injection of “how to be a better person.” Oh, and on occasion (usually daily) I see how to be a better leader as well. The latter is your main effort, but the former is why I keep coming back to your leadership blog.

  5. Yusaf from Texas

    “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” by Bryant H. McGill

    1. Laughing Monkey

      Here is my favorite quote of all, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Dr. Seuss

  6. Janna Faulkner

    Gen. Satterfield, you’ve given us some more to think about and I might add, personally, that I’m beginning to see more about what made you a leader (talking with Korean War vets and your mother and grandmother). Good to know that there are also a lot of women in your life that made a difference.

  7. Pink Cloud

    Well thought out article today, Gen. S. Thank you! ✔

  8. Grover in the Grove

    Occassionally I run across an article that attracts my attention and the ones Gen. Satterfield writes about ‘respect’ are the ones I like most. Keep this coming to educate and entertain us. One great leadership website. 😊

    1. Kenny Foster

      Right Grover, I see you’re new here. This is a wonderful website that can help you with guideposts to being a better leader and a better person. Read article, post replies, and sit back to see what kind of positive feedback you get.

      1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

        Kenny, you and I have been long-time readers of this blog and are huge fans of Gen. Satterfield and his blog posts. That is so for the obvious reason this is a great website. Oh, please buy Gen. Satterfield’s new book. It’s great. A link is provided at the end of the article above.


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