oaths, rights and wrongs amended

I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

In the United States of America the notion of an oath of fidelity, (faithfulness or allegiance) is not something suggested or required for most occupations. A half-century ago, as schoolchildren, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance before our first class every morning. As Boy Scouts, we recited its promise to obey God, do one’s best and uphold the Scout Law. Enlisting and re-enlisting in the military, members take the oath to support and defend the Constitution, to obey orders and military regulations. Federal employees as well as naturalized citizens take an oath to defend the principles of our founding document as well.

to the Constitution’s defense

Recent events involving people storming the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., were alarming. Even if unintentional, the misuse of his influence by a now-former President was not justified. He encouraged a demonstration that became mob mentality, Though citizens have the First Amendment right of peaceable assembly , to gather Trump’s emotionally-charged supporters around the Capital Building at the time of the certification of the Electoral College votes, was improper at best. But the undermining of faith in the Constitutional process sits squarely with Washington politicians and bureaucrats.

Government officials spent years unsuccessfully to determine if the 2016 election of Donald Trump was manipulated by foreign agents. In the prior eight years of President Obama’s presidency, his opposition, decried alleged misuse of Constitutional authority on many of his Administration’s policies, particularly “Obamacare”. Politics is normally unsavory, but there is ample evidence that journalists, bureaucrats, politicians and social media stoked the emotions of their respective constituents. They fostered suspicion that the Constitution was being usurped – either by one side’s “fascists” or the other’s “socialists”. The system functioned as intended however. With the election of President Biden and Vice-President Harris, the military has a new Commander-In-Chief and new civilian authority. Regulations and the UCMJ are still in effect. And the oaths men and women took to defend the Constitution and obey the orders of those in authority are still in effect.

wronged citizens, privileges, and the bill of rights

Amendments to the Constitution, particularly over citizenship, voting rights, speech and owning firearms have been debated for a century. Where today, a major issue is migration and residency of non-citizens, many in Government seek to establish equal opportunities, voting rights and social support, where a century and a half earlier, black, and Native Americans were not afforded these. The Constitution of the United States should have protected the native peoples whose land the United States obtained during its first century of “Manifest Destiny”(a). In spite of this, in the Twentieth Century, some of the most venerated military men of the Pacific Theater were the Navajo Code Talkers whose communications frustrated the Japanese. From the late 19th Century, Asian-Americans were subject to discrimination, particularly in California, and after Pearl Harbor, Japanese-Americans were incarcerated in “relocation camps” (the last closed in March 1946). But American soldiers of Japanese descent served heroically in the air, and on the ground in Europe during WWII. In the century following the Emancipation Proclamation, black Americans were called up to war, and served honorably,- many with distinction, Ninety Medal of Honor recipients were awarded to black Americans, yet in the States, they were still subject to racial injustice, economic hardship, and public tolerance for supremacist gangs like the KKK. Integrated by Executive Order in 1948, the military opened opportunities regardless of race, to serve in many specialties. Yet, in Southern communities, segregation was only squashed by the Civil Rights movement (Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King), National Guard-enforced desegregation of Southern schools, and federal Civil Rights legislation (beginning in 1964).

The military, on the other hand, is the great equalizer. Black, white, Latino, Asian, Jew, Muslim, Sikh, immigrant, female or male, and now, transgender, have all equal opportunity to advance. It is all about performance, mentorship, shared values and dedication. In the words of a former associate, “(the candidate) performs at the level (she) wishes to become, and waits for the rank to catch up”. Veterans can set the example for the next four years of the Biden Administration, through our oath of allegiance to the Constitution. Our experience in the military should help our country pull together.

Through wars of independence, a civil war, and wars to defend national interests, veterans have influenced national policy for nearly two hundred fifty years. Though people have failed to live up to the principles of the Constitution, the fault lies with the individual and not with the document.

Find a veteran to explain this if you still have doubts.

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