When I was 18 I had no clue where my life was headed. I knew I couldn't afford college nor did I want much of anything more to do with school. At the time there was no war, no "conflict in the Middle East" so I joined the U.S. Air Force. In doing so I swore an oath of enlistment. "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."
When I first spoke those words, I was still an immature kid going through the motions, undeniably as a result of my own choosing, and it was part of what had to be done. The older I get, now on the eve of my 43rd birthday 25 years on, I recite those words over and over from time to time in my head and take pause to reflect deeply on just what they mean, to me, my family, and my country. For me those words have now become a sacred bond, my honor bound pact to this nation and its citizens, to my family and friends and to myself and my sense of honor. I've come to realize that those words aren't just a part of the process of my leaving home in search of my life's path or direction, they're now a very important part of who I am and they hold true for me and will continue to do so until my dying breath.
25 years ago I made a promise, a very BIG promise that could have, for me at least, had severe consequences. In retrospect in sounds rather silly to swear to protect a piece of paper, written centuries before by a group of traitors to the Crown of England, and to do so even at the cost of my own life. But that's a rather simplistic way of looking at the situation. What those traitors - now hailed as some of the greatest heroes this great nation has ever known - did was stand up in defiance of tyranny and injustice. They stood up for freedom and equality, and they valued, above all, their own honor, and were willing to risk their very lives to defend it. How could I, in swearing to protect that document do any less?
What the Constitution meant to the Founding Fathers and what it means to me today are two rather different things, but while that is true, they also both deserve and in fact NEED defending from all enemies foreign, and domestic. In much the same way as the words penned centuries ago have changed in their meaning to this nation, my Oath of Enlistment has also taken on a new meaning. Reread that oath and you'll notice there's no "until" or end of contract clause. While it's true I've been honorably discharged, my oath, my promise to myself, to you and to every other American citizen is, and always shall be ever in effect. I WILL uphold and protect the Constiturion of these great United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, until the day I die.
My oath is my sacred word, my honor, and I hold those very sacred. My honor and my word, once it is given, are who I am. They hold me accountable and give me pause when issuing them forth. It is said with age comes wisdom. Well I can attest to that, as I've learned to not be so carefree in giving my word to anyone without first thinking through the consequences. Here's the thing I've come to realize, a man's honor doesn't mean much to some people these days, what with the internet and its complete anonymity. Anyone with access to it is free to say whatever they want without much fear of consequence. Read the comments on just about any YouTube video and you'll see what I mean. There are folks out there who will say anything just to get a rise out of other people knowing full well that the average person reading and/or commenting has no way of tracking down fartknocker297 and really beating some sense into the jack wagon authoring those comments. Those people are completely without honor. In some cultures it would still be said they not only have no honor but bring dishonor onto their family by their words or actions. That's just not who I am...
Honor, loyalty and service... By my honor, and in upholding it, I remain loyal to my oath and to serve something higher than myself. The Constitution affords you a great many rights and I swear to defend it and your rights as written therein even if you are fartknocher297 and chose to rudely and vulgarly proclaim that a video of cute cats acting crazy is stupid. I cannot promise that if you dishonor someone in my presence you are free from consequences. Your actions and your words have consequences, we all fall under that golden rule. When you hassle a store clerk for doing his job and requiring to see a photo ID when you try to use a credit or debit card, your right to free speech has left the building along with Elvis and your honor. I will defend that clerk! When you bully a kid outside the library or movie theater in my presence, I will defend that kid. When you mistreat a child, even if it's yours, I'll defend that child. All of those people are afforded the same rights you are, and when you infringe on their rights you forfeit your own and you suffer the consequences. I cannot say what those consequences will be, that depends on the circumstances surrounding your dishonor. But I'll no longer remain silent or idly stand by. I swore an oath and my word is my sacred honor...
I, Tracy Alan Luegge, 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.