"...do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic..."

"For the good of the Air Force, for the good of the armed services and for the good of our country, I urge you to reject convention and careerism..."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Maxwell AFB, April 21, 2008

"You will need to challenge conventional wisdom and call things like you see them to subordinates and superiors alike."
- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, United States Air Force Academy, March 4, 2011

Sunday, October 21, 2012


A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend the portrait unveiling for a judicial giant, Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg.  The judges from the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, present and past, dawned their robes and sat on the bench during the event.  The seats in the court room were filled with people from the legal community, including several justices of our Supreme Court.  Justice Alito and others spoke, honoring the long and faithful service of the judge.  After many great words, the portrait was unveiled.  Sitting in the marble chamber, a glance to the left or right showed the hanging portraits of all the judges from that chamber throughout its history.  A glance gave the impression of history, of something more important than the immediate, of something bigger than self.  The judge's portrait became a part of that legacy.  An American legacy.

We in the military also have the opportunity to build a legacy.  Surely, most of us will not get our portrait hung in a majestic building, but a portrait is merely a symbol.  It's a symbol of the faithfulness and dedication of the individual in the rendition, and the real legacy is found in time spent in service to the nation and to that which makes our nation special.  Our Constitution.  I feel a kinship with the judiciary.  Article Six of our Constitution, in the same line, in the same breath, requires both the judicial and executive officer, to swear or affirm to support that document, and the civil liberties enshrined within it.  Legacy for public servants, in my view, is determined by how well those public servants discharge their duty.  The jury is admittedly still out on Ginsberg, who has a real love of aristocratic trappings and who ruled inexcusably that banning AR-15s was constitutional.  Portraits often more accurately portray a love of power over principle.

Regardless, our Constitution is worth defending.  I hope that we who serve in the executive branch, and who have sworn to defend that document, will also strive for a career of faithful service.  The legacy of our work will be the continued existence of a free and prosperous nation.  We have a large role and responsibility in ensuring that this is the case.  It is not the judiciary's charge alone to support our nation's highest law.  We in the military play an important part, and we must strive to study and understand our Constitution, and to ensure that we comport ourselves appropriately in our action.  All of us who have sworn the oath, have a duty to support and defend our nation's highest law wherever threatened, in court or elsewhere.

Those who have served before us, memorialized in portrait or not, have passed the torch on to us.  It's up to us to honor their service, and to be a part of the American legacy.

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