Chapter 1. America’s sons and daughters
(This is a selected passage from Chapter 1)
“I do solemnly swear 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.”
Oath of Enlistment, Armed Forces of the United States
A 2014 Harris Poll asked 2,537 adults in the United States what occupations have great prestige. Military service ranked in the top ten, keeping company with firefighters and police officers, nurses and doctors, clergy, scientists and engineers. It is good to find military service in such esteemed company, for each of these occupations contributes a unique and critical service for the greater good of America and its citizens. All are respected for the dedication and commitment they require.
There is a school of thought that military service is a higher calling, and this Harris Poll reinforces this belief. Duty. Honor. Country. These three words are recognized hallmarks of military service and help to define its purpose and identity. When young men and women commit to joining the military, they become part of a purpose greater than themselves. America and its allies rely on our military to protect the peace and, when necessary, defend us from threats and attacks.
I believe military service is a higher calling, and I suspect you may agree with me. Some of you reading this book—Vietnam veterans and family members who served and suffered through years of collective disrespect—can rest easier now, knowing that military service is garnering the respect and admiration it has always deserved.
The Oath of Enlistment and the Oath of Office
By federal law, every man or woman who enlists, or re-enlists, in the U.S. Armed Forces takes an oath of allegiance. Enlisted service members take the oath of enlistment that began this chapter. Officers take the oath of office, which is similar in wording to the oath of enlistment, but also makes reference to the responsibilities of leadership.
The National Guard oaths of enlistment and office are similar to the service branch oaths, but also include allegiance to the state and the state’s governor, in addition to the federal allegiance to the Constitution and the president.
What these oaths mean
If you look closely at the wording of these oaths, you will see an impressive description of an impressive job. But, as every person who has worn the uniform or loved a service member knows, military service is more than just a job. It’s a commitment and a sacrifice. It’s service to our country, by preserving the rights, freedoms and values found in our Constitution, the foundation of our American way of life. It’s protecting our way of life, our national interests and our homeland, and defending it against all enemies, foreign and domestic. It doesn’t matter what uniform your child wore, or what specialty, code or classification he or she held; each and every job in the military contributes, in some way, to the protection and preservation of America.