I, (state name), 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.
Words to live by, right? I thought so, and so have a few million others throughout the history of our nation. For those unfamiliar with the passage above, it is the Oath of Enlistment of the U.S. military, a declaration of unwavering faith spoken by all who voluntarily offer their lives in defense of the United States of America. And while not every service member is called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice, we are all prepared to at any time, and it is that fact that sets us apart from the rest. It is not out of arrogance that I say this, but out of pride and loyalty for a country that offers us the freedoms that so many around the world only dream of.
There’s not a common thing that draws men and women to serve. Some join for the opportunity to repay the nation for things they have been given. Others, to receive an education. For others still, simply put, to kill. But no matter what the motivating force, we are all united under one common cause: to protect our land and our people from facing fear and harm.
On this 55th observance of Veterans Day as we know it, I ask, while you may not support our current conflicts, or those of the past, that we put aside political differences and reflect on those who have fought to provide a future for our population, one free of tyranny and oppression. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines aren’t doing this for fame or glory. The only way you’ll hear their names on the evening news is if they’re arriving at Dover Air Force Base in a casket adorned with Old Glory. They’re not doing it for money; any one of them will tell you a civilian job will pay better dividends. They do it for hope, for the vision that our actions now will lay the groundwork for a world that knows no war or violence. Funny, you may think, that in order to end violence, we must engage in it, yet we must not forget that he who desires peace must prepare for war.
I leave you now with a final thought, one that summarizes my words and, hopefully, invokes personal reflection. Taken from a promotional television ad for the US Navy, I believe this holds true for the members of all five military branches, both past and present:
"The call to serve, it has no sound, yet I have heard it in the whispered re-telling of honorable sacrifices made by those who have served before me. The call to serve has no form, yet I have clearly seen it, in the eyes of men and women infinitely more courageous and more driven than most. The call to serve has no weight, yet I have held it in my hands. I will commit to carry it close to my heart until my country is safe, and the anguish of those less fortunate has been soothed. The call to serve is at once invisible and always-present, and for those who choose to answer the call, for their country, for their fellow man, for themselves, it is the most powerful force on Earth."