72 Words

Federal law requires everyone who enlists or re-enlists in the Armed Forces of the United States to take the enlistment oath. The oath of enlistment into the United States Armed Forces is administered by any commissioned officer to any person enlisting or re-enlisting for a term of service into any branch of the military. The officer asks the person, or persons, to raise their right hand and repeat the oath after him. The oath is traditionally performed in front of the United States Flag and other flags, such as the state flag, military branch flag, and unit guidon may be present.

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.

This simple oath has been taken by millions of men and women over the course of our nation’s history, and, by doing so, have offered their lives, their futures to protect and defend the United States of America. Some have been asked to forfeit their lives because they chose to take that oath. Still others carry physical scars because they chose to take that oath. All carry memories of friends, enemies, and events because they chose to take that oath. That oath takes but a few moments to say. Most who take that oath the first time do not realize the magnitude or the potential ramifications of that oath. I took that oath on entry to the US Army, and I took a similar oath when I became a law enforcement officer. I have been released from neither, nor do I wish to be.

Simply put, taking the oath means you have made it your personal responsibility to “Protect and Defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic…”. You are telling the whole world “This is my Country, and I will defend her. I will not allow you to do her harm!” You have given your country a blank check with your name on it. You have stood straight and said with clear voice standing before your fellow citizens “My Country will be Free, even if it costs me my life!”

72 words. Takes less than one minute to recite. Its meaning? Almost unfathomable to those who have not spoken those words with their right hand held high, and have worn a uniform of the United States military. Short answer to what it means: You are a Patriot.