The Length of an Oath
“I, _____, 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.” (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).
“I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ 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; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.” (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)
How long does an Oath last? Is its life infinite or does it expire when you are no longer in the military? Does it last until you no longer believe it? Does it only last as long as the benefactor upholds their end?
I took the Enlisted Oath when I joined the Army and when I reenlisted. If you would indulge me, I would like to discuss what that oath meant to me. You see, I grew up poor and not having anyone to guide me. My father was lacking and my mother cared more about her next fix than she did about me. She even told me one time that she kidnapped me out of some ones yard. I joined the Army on my 17 birthday convincing my dad to sign the paper. So please don’t judge me for what I am about to say.
When I first took that Oath it was nothing but words to me. I did not understand the Constitution nor the implications of what that oath truly meant. When I got to my first unit and hear talk about fighting for family, friends, God, and country I would laugh inside. The idea of fighting for anything other than myself, was ludicrous. Slowly over the next year I realized I would never fight for my mom or dad, nor those “friends” back home. I once asked an old school NCO (SFC Smith) what people meant by fighting for something other than themselves. He explained to me that there are things far more important than your own self being. I decided to look into it. I soon found myself enthralled by our Founding Fathers and the Constitutional Republic that they created.
Within the year, I came to realize that my family were the soldiers around me. That my duty was to them, and my honor was their honor. I found a love for a piece of paper that was written years before I was born that meant more than anything I will ever say, write, or create. Right before going to Panama in 89 a few of us were sitting around discussing the possibility that one or more were not coming back. In that one moment of clarity I realized that these men, these brave fighters, these brothers that were willing to stand not only beside me, but for me; were what my oath was about. The brave men that stood up through out time and said, “Not today, not on this day will I let evil prevail,” are what I was fighting for.
In 1776 a few brave men committed treason by writing a document so important that it became the cornerstone of our great Republic. Did they truly understand what was to come? I believe they did. I believe those men knew that today we would see an assault on our Constitution, an assault on our way of life, an assault on our freedom; so they added the 2nd Amendment to that Constitution. They spoke clearly that we as a people have a duty to keep our Government in balance.
Our Founding Fathers in writing the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights took an oath to create this great nation. Many paid a terrible price for that oath; an oath that has lasted until today. Given that alone; I ask how long should my oath last?
I swore my word, my life my bond to 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.
What does this really mean? First, that I will take up arms should my country be invaded. I will make sure my local and federal government do nothing to take away from that great document. That if need be I will use my 2nd Amendment duty to defend the Constitution in its entirety. I give true faith to what was setup. I believe it to be the best form of government that has been established; I have faith that those men long past setup a system that deserves my allegiance, so I freely give it.
The length of an oath is for each man to decide, but mine will last until I do not. Even then I will have faith that another Patriot will stand for the Constitution.