Look around your neighborhood. See the lady walking her dog? The guy mowing his lawn down the block? They look just like everyone else, don’t they? Unless you have met them, or seen them in their uniform on a holiday like Veterans Day, they look just like any other neighbor. But there is a difference. Your neighbor (or friend, loved one, or yourself) put their lives on the line for their country, and gave up part of their life to defend us and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. The oath that they took is simple:
“I, (NAME), 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.”
The most interesting thing about the oath is that it swears allegiance not to a country, not to a person, but to a document. So our veterans swear to defend our principles, not just our physical country. And they risk themselves, their futures and part of their lives to defend words on a piece of paper (whether it is parchment, wood pulp, hemp, whatever).
The difference is that they did more than talk about defending the country, they took action. And because they did (and do, every day), we have the one document in the world that can be said to stand for liberty and freedom.
Many people talk about “rights” and “freedom”. Veterans stepped up. And that’s the difference.
To all of the veterans out there, thank you for stepping up. And thank you for defending the Constitution.