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The Oath of Enlistment

Updated on May 30, 2013

The Oath of Enlistment which those entering the military must recite may be an unfamiliar topic for those not associated with or impacted by those serving in the military. Understanding the oath of enlistment and what represents involves going back in time when the 1st oath was established. The first oath was established as part of establishing the Continental Army on June 14, 1775 which read

I _____ have, this day, voluntarily enlisted myself, as a soldier, in the American continental army, for one year, unless sooner discharged: And I do bind myself to conform, in all instances, to such rules and regulations, as are, or shall be, established for the government of the said Army.”

While the oath has seen some changes over the years in terms of adding specific words or requirements it represents a commitment by those entering the military to protect our way of life.

Some of the words added to the oath involve the words so help me God. Adding these words was a significant step and still is today given the issues facing our country.

The first official act by Congress establishing this oath was on September 29, 1789. While enlisted personnel and officers upon accepting their commission have different content based on their level of entering the service they both swear to support and defend the Constitution. This involves against all enemies both foreign and domestic. In these times we have seen by their acts some domestic enemies of our country and the oath represents a commitment by the military to defend against such domestic enemies.

While those entering military service swear to support and defend the Constitution we as citizens need to support and defend their rights in terms of providing the appropriate funding, equipment and training to keep them safe. Our world is quite different than when our country began. Efforts required to support and defend our Constitution and our way of life as stated in the oath of enlistment is harder today in terms of determining who our enemies are.

The commitment included in the oath of enlistment for enlisted personnel and officers is a big decision which those who make the decision to serve should not taken lightly. The rights of those in the military are or should be the same as private citizens. The commitment that those in the military make deserves a commitment by us as private citizens, those who represent us in Congress and those serving our country in the various government organizations and entities.

Our military is one of the best if not the best in the world it is important for all of us to remember the sacrifices these individuals and their families make and to respect them. It is therefore important to not make any decisions affecting their environment such as the freedom of religion as reported in recent days. Our military deserves respect and making changes which will or can impact the morale is unacceptable. We would not have what we have today were it not for those individuals who made the necessary sacrifices to serve our country. These individuals should not be subjected to threats of prosecution for expressing their rights provided in the Constitution. Our military serves in some not so safe places and instead of taking away their right to express their religious beliefs granted to them in the Constitution it should be encouraged.


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    • Dennis AuBuchon profile image

      Dennis AuBuchon 4 years ago

      Thanks again for your comment

    • Dennis AuBuchon profile image

      Dennis AuBuchon 4 years ago


      First thank you for your service to our country. The points you made are well taken. I appreciate the input and the additional information you have provided to those who will read this hub.

    • profile image

      Jayfort 4 years ago

      As you stated, Dennis, the current oath has evolved. As a young enlisted man, swore to the following:

      "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."

      The oath is to the Constitution of the United States, not to a single individual or a political party. To the Constitution, which is the highest law of the land.

      In following the orders of the POTUS and the officers appointed over you, it must be "according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice." The UCMJ defines what a lawful order is and what an unlawful order is. Military personnel not only CAN disobey an unlawful order, but they MUST disobey an unlawful order.