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To support and defend

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Derrick Hodges
  • 310th Airlift Squadron commander
As members of the profession of arms, we share a common bond in our oath of enlistment into military service. While federal law requires the oath for anyone who enlists or re-enlists, many military members voluntarily take the oath several times throughout their career to reaffirm this pledge.

As we approach a very competitive election season I believe it is important to reflect on the significance of this vow. The oath is not simply a formality or a patriotic gesture--it is our commitment to support and defend the one document that best describes our framework for governance and our nation's core values, the Constitution of the United States.

The notion of requiring oaths for military members is not new. In the days of Ancient Rome, citizens were transformed into soldiers by pledging their allegiance to their military general. In the Middle Ages, soldiers swore their allegiance not to military generals but to kings and other royalty. During our Revolutionary War, the Continental Army required oaths of their military officers to ensure there was no allegiance to King George III or Great Britain.

Our country is strong because we took a very different approach. The very first law of the United States of America, enacted in the very first session of the first Congress in 1789, was an act which established the oath required by civil and military officials to support the Constitution. Not an oath to support the Air Force, the president, or certainly not the flag, but instead the "more perfect union" described in the Constitution's preamble and the Bill of Rights that its amendments offer to our citizens.

Throughout history our oath has changed several times, but the connection to our Constitution has been steady. The next time you witness or take the oath, take time to reflect on the liberty, rights and ideals within this seminal document that we have sworn to support and defend.