"Any other option would be a dereliction of duty."
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Lance Day, with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, gives the Oath of Enlistment to several Marines under his command Aug. 9, 2009, during a reenlistment ceremony at the company's forward operating base in the Nawa district of Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (DoD photo by Lance Cpl. Jeremy Harris, U.S. Marine Corps/Released)
A tip of the boonie hat to Jeff for forwarding this. He writes in forward:
This was written by an active duty Marine Corps officer who is a good friend of mine. He asked me to send this around (if he does it himself, he'll probably get a ration for it) so I'm sending this to you for consideration. If you think it is good enough, please post it on your site for others to read.
It is certainly "good enough." I am honored to post it here. I did write back and ask Jeff about his use of the word "ration." His reply:
"I apologize for the slang - I'm a retired Navy officer and that word 'ration' is usually followed by 'of shit' - meaning his superiors would give him a hard time if they found out he was the author of this."
Actually, after he explained it, I remembered I knew that once upon a time. Must be getting old and brain dead.
Honor Your Oath!
An Open Letter to the Servicemembers of these united States
Written by an American Servicemember
“Duty, then is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more, you should never wish to do less.” - General Robert E. Lee
Every oath administered at every enlistment, commissioning, and promotion across all branches of military service begins with the individual swearing or affirming to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic and ... [to] bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” Should our country and government fall under attack from foreign armies, there is no question that we will defend this country and our Constitution to our last. But what should be the proper course of action for the servicemembers of these united States when our Constitution is threatened from within, by those who themselves have taken a nearly identical solemn oath to support and defend (or preserve, protect, and defend in the case of the President) the very document they usurp? The answer to this quotidian question, it would seem, is not self-evident when one considers the near silence of our military personnel.
When elected officials, regardless of political affiliation, whether Representative, Senator, or President, repeatedly defy the Constitution by legislating on and regulating all aspects of American life, commerce, privacy, and health in direct defiance of the limited scope to which the Constitution binds them (see Article I, Section 8), what recourse is available to the servicemembers bound by their oath? What options remain when repeated written and oral petitions for redress of grievances addressed to these officials are answered only by repeated injury? How many petitions of this nature must be ignored before American servicemembers and civilians alike finally muster the courage to ask such questions?
Some may say that the servicemember’s duty is to maintain the status quo and remain silent, declaring that it would be unwise or unprofessional for military men and women to opine on political matters. However, these matters are not of a partisan nature. The nature of addressing unconstitutional advances, rather, is that of a servicemember fulfilling his sworn duty and at stake is the nature of the relationship between the federal government and the people and States.
It is also perhaps not surprising that our servicemembers largely have remained silent considering the dearth of education pertaining to the Constitution military personnel and Americans at large receive. Is this willfully negligent or is it another effort to abstain from appearing partisan? Is this negligence to teach the Constitution sufficient to relieve the servicemember of his sworn duty to support and defend our governing document? Certainly not! Ignorance in this case is a terrible shame but is no excuse. The ethical responsibility is on the individual servicemember to fully understand his sworn oath and it falls equally on his leadership to ensure comprehension of and adherence to the oath.
If the servicemember’s duty to support and defend the Constitution persists, again what recourse is available? Seeking to engage fellow servicemembers in discussions about Constitutional authority for current legislation has the potential of yielding sarcasm, indifference, or being labeled a domestic terrorist threat. The time has sadly arrived where servicemembers who have sworn to support and defend the Constitution are marginalized for voicing their concerns that our governing document is being metaphorically shredded.
So again, what remains for the servicemember who sincerely holds himself accountable to his oath when he finds his fellow servicemembers and elected officials to be guilty of neglecting their own? Should he remove himself from military service? Should he abandon his sworn duty because so many others find the implications of supporting that oath an uncomfortable or unacceptable option? Common sense and an obligation to honor tell us that to do so would be absurd. Rather, it is the duty of the individual servicemember to continually and emphatically advocate the long-forgotten notion that the federal government abide by the law of the land. To that end, let this letter serve as a call to all those who have raised their right hand, often invoking divine assistance, to reexamine their willingness to abide by their oath and to accept its full weight and responsibility. This inevitably will yield only two options: deciding to dutifully act in full accord with the oath, thereby truly supporting and defending the Constitution, or deciding to depart military service. Any other option would be a dereliction of duty.
August 7, 2009