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A Reflection on My Oath of Office — as an Officer

This is one time when it is good to swear.

President Biden’s remarks on 9/11 as part of the 20th anniversary included the idea that there are threats that are external to the United States and today, more than ever, there are internal threats to our democracy.

Which reminded me of my oath of office that I only took once, but the words echo until today. See below:

“I, _____, 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.”

This idea of “obeying orders” might have an asterisk appended to it: *Lawful orders are only to be followed.

This oath of office has had significant meaning over the years and reflects that a military officer owes allegiance not to one individual or political party, but to the freedoms expressed in the Constitution and in the Bill of Rights. In today’s world of “individual rights and beliefs,” those too are secondary to the oath that is taken.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.
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