USAFA — Time Also Flies
With Humility and Pride — Our Last Parents Weekend
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensible supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness — these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. … Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths…” —President George Washington (1796)
Fellow Patriots, I am traveling to Colorado Springs this week to attend my second and final Parents’ Weekend at the Air Force Academy. My oldest son is now a senior there and it is with both humility and pride that we join with other parents to celebrate this next generation of young Patriots on track to become military leaders.
As with many of his peers, our son has excelled in his years there. Though he is now eligible to cross-commission into the Marine Corps and has not decided which direction he will go, USAFA has provided a great foundation for his future service to our nation.
We thank God for this young man, as we do for each of our other children, who have excelled in their own spheres.
My first Parents’ Weekend was three years ago, shortly after my son completed basic training. That visit took place about eight weeks after I dropped him off at the Academy gates in July 2012.
What I regretted most about that drop-off was the fact that I wouldn’t be present for his swearing in the next day — to witness his first oath “to Support and Defend” our Constitution and, by extension, our great nation. I didn’t realize that parents could be present for their cadet’s oath, and I had already committed to attend a Navy colleague’s retirement ceremony.
The first time I spoke with my son after leaving USAFA was about four weeks after he began basic. Among other things, I asked about his oath and he said, “They cut ‘So Help Me God.’” I asked if he meant simply that it was optional and he said, “No, they cut it.”
Needless to say, that got my attention. In fact, there was a group decision at USAFA to deliberately cut those words, first spoken by George Washington after his presidential oath. Not only that, the words were deliberately omitted from the officer and enlisted oaths in “Contrails,” the official USAFA Cadet Handbook.
I immediately began an inquiry with the Academy’s pubic affairs office, but my request was stonewalled. They suggested that if I wanted an answer I’d have to file a Freedom of Information Act request.
I did more than that. I enlisted the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom, whose attorneys filed the FOIA.
That, in turn, led to an official letter of inquiry to the USAFA superintendent signed by 28 members of Congress asking for “a detailed explanation as to why the [AFA handbook] omits ‘so help me God’ from these oaths, despite the fact that the phrase is used in the very statutory language of the United States Code, and was part of the military oath drafted by the Founders themselves.”
Having met Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh at national security forums prior to his becoming chief in 2012, I wrote him, as did others who had read a column I subsequently published about this issue. Gen. Welsh is an outstanding leader and, though consumed with warfronts and Obama’s budget sequestration antics, he took the time to seek answers and respond to my inquiry.
I invite you to read my original column about this deliberate, illegal and disreputable omission: Obama’s End Run on ‘So Help Me God’ in Military Oaths.
It turns out that the deletion of these key words was largely motivated by a silent acquiescence to the demands of a serial faith stalker, Michael Weinstein, and his so-called “Military Religious Freedom Foundation” (MRFF). Weinstein has been targeting USAFA for years and, having already challenged numerous faith-based activities at the Academy with threats of lawsuits, he figured it was a soft target.
Suffice it to say that, with a little help from some friends, the words “So Help Me God” have now been rightfully restored to the USAFA Cadet Handbook oaths.
This was a small victory for our young people at USAFA, but in retrospect it has become clear that had we not intervened this deliberate omission would likely have been extended the following year within the official handbooks at the Naval Academy and at West Point. Based on that precedent, our legal team concluded that military oaths service wide could have been altered had this charade not been short-circuited.
So perhaps this was more than just a small victory, but the larger war against the Leftist cadres who now infiltrate every corner of our government is far from won.
As my colleague Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William “Jerry” Boykin says of Barack Obama’s efforts to oppress religious expression, “The very troops who defend our religious freedom are at risk of having their own taken away. The worst thing we can do is stop Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, especially the chaplains, from the free exercise of their faith.”
I’ll be back on schedule next week, with a comprehensive follow-up column on immigration, focusing primarily on facts versus fiction in regard to “anchor babies.”
Pro Deo et Constitutione — Libertas aut Mors
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis