Oath of Enlistment worthy of review this holiday

  • Published
  • By Maj. George Kinney
  • 62nd Communications Squadron commander
Over 230 years ago, our Founding Fathers penned the Declaration of Independence, motivating 250,000 citizens to take an Oath of Enlistment to "swear (or affirm as the case may be) to be trued to the United States of America." 

Their efforts on the battlefields of Lexington, Concord, Valley Forge and Yorktown secured our future as an independent nation, committed to a set of ideas enacted 11 years later in the Constitution of the United States. 

With the enactment of the Constitution, our Congress changed the Oath of Enlistment to read, "I, do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the constitution of the United States." This basic oath from 220 years ago remains largely unchanged and all members to this day swear to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States." 

This holiday serves as a perfect opportunity to not only celebrate the founding of the nation, but also to reflect upon what our Oath of Enlistment or Office charges each of us to do. 

Like our Revolutionary War predecessors, we do not defend a person, place, or piece of paper, but a set of ideas written more than 220 years ago in the Constitution of the United States. We support and defend a way of government, comprised of three separate but equal branches of government. We are also defenders of an idea that government power stems from its citizens, each of whom express their opinions in an equal "vote" regardless of race, sex, economic or social position. Every citizen also has the right to assemble peaceably to ask our government to redress grievances. 

Additionally, with our Oath of Enlistment or Office, we have sworn to support and defend a set of individual rights. We are committed to ensure that every citizen is free from slavery and inservitude. Furthermore, we have committed ourselves to defend every citizen's right to freedom of religion and speech. We are also defenders of citizens' rights within the judicial system, which include a protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as rights to due process, confront their accusers and a fair and speedy trial. 

Since 1789, members of the armed forces have taken an Oath of Enlistment or Office, pledging to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Take a moment this weekend to read our Constitution and understand what you have pledged to defend. It is an awesome set of ideas, which I am proud to say I will support and defend against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Have a safe, relaxing and enjoyable Fourth of July!