These are troubled times, and I know that all of us who have taken the Oath have often pondered what it means, exactly, and more importantly, when the line is actually crossed where the Oath takes precedence over everything else.
I am as much of a loss as to where that line is as any of you. I know it’s there and, as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said, and I paraphrase, I may not be able to define exactly where that line is, but I’ll know it when I see it.
All I know is my Oath. And that was not an easy one to give. It may seem easy to one native born, but it isn’t to one who was born elsewhere. Part of it is denouncing all allegiance and loyalty to where you came from and that is no small step. It means, among other things, that I swore to be willing to carry arms against the nation of my birth, my brothers and sisters, should circumstances require it. I know, the likelihood of of my native country finding itself at war with the United States are slim to none, but it’s a binding oath nonetheless and stranger things have happened.
That’s why I didn’t lay it down on a whim, because I knew the terrible price, no matter how unlikely, I might have to pay. 0.0001% still isn’t 0%. And I would, I will be bound by it, should the unthinkable come to pass. I’m not saying this to garner praise, I’m not saying this to ask for a “good on ya, mate”, I’m only saying this to stress and to illustrate just how deep my love and admiration for this nation and the Constitution upon which she rests runs. Because I could not possibly have laid down that Oath unless it was so.
“Without mental reservation or purpose of evasion.” And before G-d. If I were ever to break that Oath, I would be less than nothing. I would not even be worthy of the lowest circle of Hell, because I would have betrayed my word, which is my honor.
And so it goes with the second part: My sacred vow to defend this Constitution and nation that I love unto my dying breath against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
As I pray that I will never have to test the first part, so I pray that the second part will never be tested.
All that I know that if it is, I will die sooner than betray it.
My word is my soul, my word is what I am, and if I betray it, I am nothing. I am less than nothing. I am a disgrace to my ancestors, the ones without whom I would have never been here. I do desire life. There are so many things that I still want to do, chief among which is to watch my beloved children grow into manhood, but none of that matters if my legacy is that of a coward, an Oath-breaker, a nithling, somebody who valued himself over his word.
And if our nation comes to grief, if our experiment ends in conflict, I don’t know how it will end. The only thing I do know is that I will triumph or die in the tradition of my ancestors who were far better men than I, but I will not go down without a fight. I will not have my children look back upon me, win or lose, as somebody who caved in to “expediency” or “inevitability.”
G-d was my witness as I laid down that Oath, and if He wills it that I survive the struggle, if there is to be one which I pray is not the case, then so be it. If I do not, at least I will have stayed true to my Oath and my enemies will not ever have the satisfaction of making me a slave.