Would you believe me if I told you the Oath of Office came first and is more important than the Pledge of Allegiance?
No one should be forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school, before a football game, or anywhere else. Instead, we should be reciting the Oath instead of the Pledge that says we must be loyal to a piece of rectangular cloth colored red, white, and blue that hangs from a pole.
The Oath of Office is the same oath every incoming president of the United States recites as they rest a hand on a Bible and are sworn in.
In fact, all officers of the seven uniformed services of the United States swear or affirm an oath of office upon commissioning. It differs slightly from that of the oath of enlistment that enlisted members recite when they enter the service. It is required by statute, the oath being prescribed by Section 3331, Title 5, United States Code. It is traditional for officers to recite the oath upon promotion but as long as the officer’s service is continuous this is not required.
The U.S. Constitution, Article VI, clause 3 says, “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
The first Oath of Office was given to those serving in the Continental Army, beginning in 1775. A candidate had to not only name the 13 states, but also swear to keep them “free, independent and sovereign states and declare no allegiance to George the third, king of Great Britain” as well as “defend the United States against King George, his heirs and successors, and his and their abettors, assistants and adherents.”
Francis Bellamy, a Christian socialist minister, and author wrote the original version of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance in 1892 — 117 years after George Washington recited the first Oath of Office to become the first president of the United States.
In its original form the Pledge of Allegiance said:
“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added. At this time it read: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy’s daughter objected to this alteration.
I prefer the Oath of Office instead of the Pledge of Allegiance. When I recite the Oath, I think of it as a patriot’s true oath.
The president’s oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
History House.gov says, “The founders decided to require an oath for federal and state officials—absent a religious test—in the Constitution, but the specifics—such as the wording of the oath—were left to the First Congress (1789–1791). In its first act, Congress specified the wording: “I, A.B. do solemnly swear or affirm (as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.” This oath was used for all federal officials except the President, whose oath was prescribed specifically in the Constitution (Article II, section 1, clause 8). …
“The oath used today has not changed since 1966 and is prescribed in Title 5, Section 3331 of the United States Code. It reads: “I, AB, 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; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
The Patriot’s Oath should read: I, [first and last 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; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”
Not once does the Oath or the Pledge say we must be loyal to the President of the United States, and I know without a doubt that I will not be loyal to President Donald Trump under any circumstances, because I think Trump is a domestic enemy of the U.S. Constitution.
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam combat veteran with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing, who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).