The U.S. oath of enlistment was changed in 1960, good decision?

United States
January 26, 2012 8:43am CST
This change went into effect 2 years later and in 1962 anyone who joined than had to use this oath: 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. http://usmilitary.about.com/od/joiningthemilitary/a/oathofenlist.htm Prior to this the oath was to the United States of America than to the president. Do you think that this had to do with the cold war during the 60's? Could it be they realized that the day might come when a president(s) might be elected who would not care to follow the constitution? Should our allegiance be to the country/nation or to the values/constitution that it claims to uphold?
3 responses
@owlwings (37718)
• Cambridge, England
26 Jan 12
From 1789 to 1962, the oath used to be one of allegiance to "the United States of America" and "to observe and obey the orders of the Continental Congress, and the orders of the Generals and officers set over me by them." Currently the oath can clearly be read as one of allegiance to "the Constitution of the United States". The second part of the oath indicates, in both cases, that the oath-taker promises obedience (not allegiance, though it's a fine point) to the orders of those who are placed in command. My problem is much more with the first part of the oath - the part which swears allegiance to a particular body or institution. Does a country's constitution actually represent the country itself? I think I can understand the change in the wording of the second part rather more easily because, by 1962, the President of the United States had become the Chief in Command of all US military forces, which may not have been so clearly or specifically the case in 1789.
@owlwings (37718)
• Cambridge, England
26 Jan 12
I presume that the President (if he is CiC) also has to take this oath, though he cannot (obviously) promise to obey his own orders!
• United States
26 Jan 12
This is a difference between the U.S. and U.K.: The Constitution is indeed the country. It is passage in 1878 and ratification of the Constitution that created the United States of America as the Federation it is today, and it is the fundamental and supreme law of the land. Article VI, paragraph 3 of the Constitution says, The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States Every official of the United States govermnent, from the President to the Congresscritters, all the way down to the newest Private begin their public service careers with an oath to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. Per Article II Section 2, the President has always been Commander in Chief of all US military forces. The President is, however, a civilian and takes the same Oath of Office any other civilian does.
• United States
26 Jan 12
"The Constitution is indeed the country" - TheMetallion makes a good point, if it was not the country than George Washington wouldn't be anywhere close to our 1st president...lol
• United States
26 Jan 12
The Oath is to the Constitution, and has been since 1789, per the page you cite. The President's authority as Commander in Chief comes solely from Article II Section 2. It is also worth noting that the UCMJ requires soldiers to refuse to obey unlawful orders regardless of who has given them.
• United States
26 Jan 12
"It is also worth noting that the UCMJ requires soldiers to refuse to obey unlawful orders regardless of who has given them." Yes, but...we both know that reality can be different. When I was in basic we were shown specific films where people were given unlawful or questionable orders, like to "eliminate enemies captured" and how to directly ask your superiors if they were asking you to commit a crime and what you should reply. I wonder if these films are still shown as part of basic training today?
• United States
26 Jan 12
My friends and family currently serving in each branch of the armed forces tell me they were taught to resist and refuse unlawful orders. I never asked if these films were used as part of that education.
@mythociate (13650)
• Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
2 Jan 13
Well, the Constitution IS the settled rules that the country's people agree to be governed by. Isn't there a 'kill-switch' in the Constitution---some line which--when the government crosses it--instantly dissolves all guarantees of the document?