Every person who has ever served in the United States military has been given the oath of enlistment or office (for military officers) before gaining entry to their respective military branches. Before administering the oath, the new recruits are reminded of its significance in order for them to understand what they are swearing to. Part of the oath states that they will swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Although it further states, “I will obey the orders of the President of the United States,” the oath does not discuss defending a person, but rather the values and beliefs of our Constitution. In fact, subjects who violate the oath are held accountable for their actions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
Similar oaths are administered to public servants, such as elected government officials, law enforcement officers, and firefighters, to name a few. The common denominator of these oaths is the willingness to affirm dedication in defending the Constitution of the United States. Public servants are also obligated to defend their state’s constitution, which mirrors the values and beliefs of the U.S. Constitution. Public officials who violate their oath can be held accountable through sanctions, as well as removal from public office.
It is appalling that there are individuals who had taken this solemn oath (which is based on the values of providing democracy for all its citizens), then willfully violated that oath when they participated in the insurrection that occurred on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Several states are reporting compelling evidence that both military and public servants took part or stood by on the sideline looking on. It is also distressing to hear reports that institutions related to public safety are investigating their departments to ensure none of their members were involved.
We as citizens entrust people to uphold the law for the sake of ensuring not only national security relating to foreign affairs, but also national security related to domestic affairs. Capitol rioters wearing U.S. military logos, and others waving the “Thin Blue Line” flag, have either forgotten what these symbols represent or have failed to adhere to the oaths from which these institutions were built. It is shameful to see that while Capitol Police were struggling with these insurrectionists—being kicked, punched, and sprayed with pepper spray—there were public servants nearby who failed to act.
There are many ways to voice our grievances and hold our public officials accountable other than engaging in acts of violence and vandalizing the U.S. Capitol building. Not only are these actions a waste of our taxpayer dollars, but they are also harmful to our values and beliefs in democracy. I write this article to call on my fellow service veterans, members, and public servants to denounce these insurrectionists and to remind you of our obligation to uphold the oath we took to defend our country.