While the popularity and respect that military generals receive by the public, does vary depending upon the times and seasons, in general, though, military generals are accorded a fairly high respect in America, of which twelve of the United States Presidents to date have been generals, such as Washington, Grant, and Eisenhower. The thing is though, when we take a good look at generals, it must be absolutely recognized, that generals, in times of war, are in the business of killing enemy combatants, as well as regrettably killing people, unintended or not, that are non-combatants but are in the area of conflict; in addition, to all the infrastructure that is destroyed, as well as jobs that are uprooted, and food, schooling, transportation, along with the regular course of common events being seriously disrupted.
As it has been said, "war is hell," but apparently that hell does not seem to be something that has ended, as wars are still being fought as a means of resolving conflict, which seems to be something that educated and highly cultured people should not be doing to one another. For instance, murder, is frown upon in virtually every culture that could possibly be envisioned, and murder is a crime, that usually mandates a serious amount of incarceration, of which, you will find nearly nobody that is actually sane, being a proponent of murder as being okay, especially when such is defined as the "…the unlawful killing of another human without justification or valid excuse." This implies that when it comes to war, that those that are doing and/or ordering the killing of enemy combatants are, by definition, on a very slippery slope, because at a minimum, every war has collateral damage of property and civilians, in addition to the very salient fact, that probably every war has the unnecessary killing of enemy combatants, which could be justifiably be seen as a form of murder.
Now, perhaps the main reason why so many generals are held in high regard, is that the orthodox narrative has often been carefully constructed to define the war under the aegis as being one of freedom, or of liberty, or of unity, or of justice, or of the defense of the people, of which, many times, there is truth in that, but perhaps not the whole truth. However, that said, people are entitled to defend themselves, they are also entitled to liberate themselves, seek justice, and to disallow those that have lost at a fair democratic election, to seek to overcome such by going to the sword. However, there is hypocrisy and a disconnect to actually believe that in order to have a peaceful, liberated and free society, that this can only come about by killing one's enemies; for while the sword is a rather persuasive enforcer, such enforcement carries a heavy price for he who wields it as well as he who succumbs to it. On the other hand, reasonable people and cultures, should be able to find common ground, in which, if everyone actually had a seat at the table of decision and opportunity, then peace and goodwill should come in a manner in which the swords previously used in war are thereby turned into plowshares, for that is what a civilized culture must become, in order to truly endure the tests of time.
Should military generals be held in high regard? The answer would appear to be situation specific, for there are those times when a great military general is needed out of necessity in order to sustain or liberate that culture, government, and people; but wars of aggression and of conquest, seldom are, and therein lies the most meaningful difference.