As a Marine Mom, I'd like to take this time to pay tribute not only to my son and brother, but also to all of the men & women fighting to preserve our way of life. The following was sent to me today by Marine Parents.com and I hope you read it as a reminder of the oath they've given and to also take a moment to pray for our troops so far away from home. I won't be spending Christmas with my son this year because he's volunteered to do his job in Afghanistan. My wish is that he comes home soon!
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the fighting paused. There was an armistice, a break in the fighting, and a signal of the end of the Great War. Indeed, it was the greatest war the world of 1918 had ever seen. Some even called it, “the War to End All Wars.” But we know better.
A year later President Woodrow Wilson asked the United States of America to consider November 11 a day for “solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service . . . .” He chose his words carefully. Solemn pride. Not the pride of fame or success, but the pride of a flag draped over a soldier’s coffin; the pride of a son’s eulogy, a daughter’s memory, a worthy sacrifice. The pride we humbly accept as both gift and burden, from those who need us to feel their pride for them.
But with that pride comes a parasitic question—why? Why must we accept solemn pride when we would gladly trade the yellow ribbon, the gold star, the folded flag, to get back our sons, our daughters, our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our families and our friends?
Why? The question is short, sharp as a dagger, and just as dangerous. But for every dagger there is a shield. Duty. Our sons and daughters swore a duty, and they would rather forfeit their lives than break their oath. This is the oath they swore, the Oath of Enlistment:
It was their voluntary duty. No one forced it upon them; they accepted it by choice. By performing their duty they protect those living under the Constitution. They defend us against any and every enemy that would threaten our morals, our principles, our way of life. As citizens, we owe these Defenders of the Constitution more than our gratitude. We owe them a duty in return.
Our duty is not voluntary, though not all of us uphold it. We inherit our duty the moment we become citizens of the United States of America. Our duty is to give the defenders something worth defending. The treasure must justify the chest.
As citizens of the United States of America, Statesmen and Stateswomen alike, we have a place to look to find our duty. Take a moment to look carefully again at the words of the Oath of Enlistment and try to answer the following question: To whom does a service member swear allegiance? A service member’s allegiance belongs first and foremost to the Constitution of the United States, only secondarily to orders of the President of the United States and appointed officers. The President too swears an oath to the Constitution:
Officers swear an oath similar to enlistees:
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; 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 on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
To “establish Justice.” Do we deal justly with our neighbors? Do we demand justice from our courts, our lawmakers, our leaders? Do we strive to create a society devoted to fairness and reason? That is our duty.
To “insure domestic Tranquility.” Do we needlessly fight with one another? Are we too eager to call to arms? Are we too reluctant? Do we protect and maintain a peaceful society? That is our duty.
To “provide for the common defence.” Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves to preserve one another, our principles, our Constitution? Are we willing to allow our loved ones to sacrifice themselves? That is our duty.
To “promote the general Welfare.” Are we selfish? Do we care for one another? Do we concern ourselves with the well-being of all? That is our duty.
To “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Do we guard our freedoms zealously? Do we preserve our freedoms not only for ourselves, but for our children to come? The children who will, like us, inherit a citizen’s duty to the Constitution?
Do we embody the Constitution that our warriors swear to defend? To do so is more than gratitude. We cannot alter the sacrifices of our Fallen Heroes—they have given all they can give—but we can create something worthy of their sacrifice.
On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the fighting paused. I say paused because the fighting never stops. As long as we, the People, uphold principles worth fighting for, and as long as others threaten those principles, our warriors will fight for us and our Constitution.
They will die for it, but first, we must live for it.
-Written by a Marine BrotherCopyright © 2009 Scott Karalis