Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life

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Soldier's Letters

January 8th, 2005 3:22 PM

"I solemnly swear to defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

From: "super sco"
Sent: Friday, January 28, 2005 3:22 PM
Subject: To inform our citizens

To whom it may concern,

I am a Senior Airman in the United States Air Force. I wish to share a little bit about myself so that you may better understand my concerns over America's current precarious place in history. I enlisted in the Air Force for many reasons. Among them was education benefits, pay, travel opportunities, but most importantly, I simply wanted to wear the uniform. I viewed enlistment as an important act that young men had been undertaking for over two hundred years to protect our people. Imagine my surprise when, upon reaching Lackland AFB, TX for Basic Military Training, I looked at my fellow "trainees" and found nothing but children. I saw not a group of patriotic Americans, but a political rally of apathetic shock troops with no notions of what the Constitution stands for or the oath we took.

I have echoed the words of that oath as a warning to fellow members of my squadron every single time I have heard an undemocratic syllable from their mouths. I quote, "I solemnly swear to defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic." The last two words are key: and domestic. To all who read this, I urge this warning: the single greatest danger to America and our way of life is ourselves. No foreign power can dictate your oppression. No foreign army can impose martial law upon us. No foreign dictator can remove the precious right that I am exercising at this moment. Militaries do not keep people free! Militaries keep us safe, but it is we citizens who ensure freedom! Every time we voice our opinion we are promoting freedom. Stationing our armies, navies, and air forces in distant lands and toppling weak regimes does not keep us free. It is through political action and dissent over injustice that we remain free! I say this now to inform concerned Americans of what I have witnessed firsthand as citizen soldier in the U.S. Air Force: your soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines need instruction on what government by consent means; they need a refresher course in Constitutional government; they need to be reminded that their loyalties lie not to the person in office but to the ideals of the Constitution.

Consider this personal example. In the recent presidential election, I made my opinion very clear and I will make it now. I did not support George W. Bush because his speech on March 17, 2003 mislead our country to war. In hindsight, no weapons of mass destruction have been found. The intelligence community has publicly admitted to making a mistake in their reports. I personally feel we have been lied to, and when I expressed this opinion I received the greatest injury of all. I was told I was not to share my opinions in the workplace, which is an Air Force installation. I was told to give up our most precious freedom, the freedom from which all others stem: the freedom of speech. It was on that day that my tolerance for the injustices I sustain in the Air Force withered. The attitude of others in my squadron was that I was being disloyal. If I had a nickel for every time they said to me, "What's wrong with you? Are you anti-military? Are you a pacifist? You don't like your president?" I would never have to work again. The greatest threat to our freedom is the prevailing attitude in the military. The view that we should be personally loyal to the president, not to the Constitution; the idea that the president should not be accountable to public opinion polls.

Your soldiers have forgotten the oath they swore. The Constitution established a separation of powers, and placed a civilian at the top of the military for a reason. Throughout history, no lesson can be more apparent than the old adage, "Power corrupts." How many kings, tyrants, and dictators used their militaries to usurp power from the people? How many used the military to force citizens to consent to authoritarian rule? The number is astronomical. Our Founding Fathers listened to the voice of history, and knew this lesson well. We must teach it to our children, your future soldiers, again. Never blindly trust authority! This is the heart of the ideals behind the Constitution. Government, if left unchecked, will work to further its own agendas. We must keep government in check to ensure they follow our agenda. And that is the heart of the ideals behind the oath we soldiers take. This is what our soldiers have forgotten. I caution all Americans to keep a watchful eye upon your soldiers. Their hearts and minds are being won over by politicians. They are barely loyal to the Constitution, or the ideals of freedom. Many would rather sacrifice a few of your personal liberties that are "taken for granted" for their personal security. They have forgotten that security stems from personal freedom: the security against oppression lies in the powers that freedom grants. The power I speak of is the power to say "No" and not to comply. I fear dark days for our country and our people. Listen to history, go back and read and reflect upon the atrocities that tyrants and the militaries under their control have inflicted. Then perhaps my warning will have personal significance for all of you.

Christopher R. Atkins
Senior Airmen
United States Air Force

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