Southern style: what is honor

tsj column writers - southern styleBy Randall Franks

How does one acquire it? Is honor a cloak that you can put on and take off at will?

I would say that honor is something that you acquire over time, much like putting on layers of clothes in the winter to stay warm. Once the layers are in place, you find yourself warm and comfortable.

Webster defines honor with a list of terms, including: respectful regard, esteem, worship, reputation, exalted rank, fame, magnanimity, scorn of meanness, self-respect, chastity, an outward mark of high esteem and glory.

Through the Congressional Medal of Honor, our country pays tribute to our soldiers who show valor in action against an enemy force.

There is a proverb, which says, “Ease and honor are seldom bedfellows.”

I believe that there are many honorable people left in this world, although they are becoming harder to find.

Many people who cloak themselves in years of honor can at times find the weight of the layers a difficult load to bear. As the temperature rises, for some they begin to toss the layers aside to suit their personal needs and feelings.

It was poet Nicholas Boileau who said, “Honor is like an island, rugged and without a beach; once we have left it, we can never return.”

I tend to agree — once you begin to throw off the layers, you are on the road to no longer being an honorable person. Unfortunately in life we find these in every walk of life. It is difficult to tell at times when someone is fully cloaked in honor or casting off his garments. Of course, there are many who simply never bothered to get dressed at all.

To describe those who truly have honor, I lean towards the words of Scott O’ Grady: “It wasn’t the reward that mattered or the recognition you might harvest. It was your depth of commitment, your quality of service, the product of your devotion — these were the things that counted in a life. When you gave purely, the honor came in the giving, and that was honor enough.”

Mark Twain said, “It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.”

It is sad in life when one does not receive the respect or recognition he or she has worked to receive, but one can find solace in the fact that if you remain layered in the fabric of honor, you are the better person for it.

(Randall Franks is an award-winning musician, singer and actor. He is best known for his role as “Officer Randy Goode” on TV’s “In the Heat of the Night” now on WGN America. His latest CD release, “Mississippi Moon,” is by Crimson Records. He is a member of the Independent Country Music Hall of Fame. His latest book is “Encouragers II: Walking with the Masters.” He is a syndicated columnist for and can be reached at

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