05/28/2010 11:51 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Vanishing Trait of Loyalty

After twenty one years of performing graduations at a private school, my brass quintet was told we were no longer needed. Seems a new brass teacher at the school was going to bring in her quartet. I know it was not personal, but business, and a desire to save money in this recession. I understand all that but what bothered me was the way it was handled. This was after an email agreement had been made and a contract sent. I wasn't given an option of bringing a smaller group, just a voice mail with a message of thanks for our wonderful music all of these years.

I protested and pointed out that the contract says we need 60 days notice and we had a written agreement and that I was disappointed at this treatment after twenty one years. I managed to save our employment for now although I am unsure of what will happen next year.

This whole series of events got me thinking about the trait of loyalty and how rare it is these days in our society. As a sluggish economy limps along, it seems people are more willing than ever to sell their souls for a buck.

We also seem to revel at celebrities' infidelities whether they are politicians (John Edwards), husbands of movie stars (Jesse James), or famous golfers (Tiger Woods). The tabloids would languish without stories of indiscretions and affairs.

Soap operas, movies, TV reality series (think Survivor) thrive on tales of betrayal, cheating, lying, and backstabbing. Why are we so fascinated by the dark side of others? Is it because it makes us feel we are decent human beings by comparison?

The recent Pennsylvania Democratic Senate Primary highlights this debate about loyalty. Senator Arlen Spector switched parties last spring to secure re-election after infuriating fellow Republicans by voting for President Obama's Stimulus bill. Seems the Democratic electorate felt no loyalty to a GOP defector nor to the PA Democratic establishment that endorsed him and elected a relative newcomer, Representative Joe Sestak of Delaware County. Now the Democratic leaders have jumped on the Sestak bandwagon.

Are there any loyal people still out there? I'll tell you what loyalty is. It's taking care of your wife of over fifty years even when she has Alzheimer's Disease. It's standing by your soul mate by feeding her, clothing her, putting her to bed, and bathing her after all her so-called friends have abandoned her. That's what my father did for my mother for eighteen years. As a former Marine who served on Iwo Jima during World War II, this is the true meaning of "Sempre Fidelis", forever faithful.

It's taking care of your partner of over twenty years while she struggles with breast cancer. It's holding her hand as she throws up from the chemo, loses her hair, and becomes too weak to climb the stairs. It's cooking for her, giving her medicine, playing scrabble with her, and sponge washing her in her bed. It's being there for her until the very end. That's what my sister's lifetime lover did for her. Their relationship exemplified the trait of true loyalty.

It's supporting your husband even when he has ALS. It's taking him to endless doctor appointments, fighting insurance companies, waking up in the middle of the night to rescue him when he falls out of bed, pureeing his food, and helping him in and out of his wheelchair. That's what my best friend is doing. This is unwavering loyalty in action.

So there are heroes and heroines out there and I am fortunate to have them as close friends and family members who have demonstrated that this vanishing trait is not dead. What is the main motivating factor that makes a person loyal to another? Unconditional love. That's something we could all use a lot more of.