We’ve just completed another Presidents Day. This holiday that began as George Washington’s birthday celebration has grown into a celebration of our two most revered presidents who had February birthdays, Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Many people also view this day as an opportunity to remember all of our presidents. I think it’s good to remember all of the men who have served as president because the job is a tough one.
Many of our presidents have served in one of the military services, but not all have. Some of the men who became president used their war record as part of their campaign.
As an example, if then Brig. Gen. James A. Garfield had not ridden back onto the Chickamauga battlefield after recommending that his commander, General William S. Rosecrans, ride to the rear at Chattanooga to rally the troops, Garfield might never have been president.
Rosecrans found himself relieved of command and Garfield was seen as a hero who rode into battle to save his men from annihilation. I’m probably overstating that a little, but I think Garfield’s supporters did, too.
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I served under a number of presidents while I was on active duty. I didn’t like all of them. A few were not always truthful or wise. Some inspired me. One really depressed me. However, like all American soldiers I pledged to defend the Constitution, not a particular person.
Serving the Constitution and the nation it represents is a much grander vision than pledging to serve one man. If any of you have read that President Barack Obama is trying to get soldiers to pledge allegiance to him, that is not true.
Some blogger’s attempt at satire got out of hand and circulated all over the Internet causing quite a stir — and understandably so. Don’t believe everything you see on the Web.
One thing that makes this country so great is that our military is not a threat to civilian control.
This is ensured by our soldiers pledging to defend the Constitution, not one person. Many tyrants have demanded a personal pledge of allegiance from their soldiers. This may result in a long reign, but this often also results in a very ugly end to that reign some day.
Our system is much better. Regardless of the contentious nature of a national election, when the election is over the country moves forward.
Our military services continue to protect this great nation regardless of the name or political party of the president.
We citizens do not have to worry about our military service men and women reacting differently during a change of leadership. They will continue to serve on every January 20 the same as they served on every January 19. This provides the United States an enviable level of stability when we change presidents.
So I’m glad we remember Presidents Washington and Lincoln and our other presidents on Presidents Day. But I’m really glad that this day reminds me that soldiers defend the Constitution so that our nation can have a calm transition between leaders and remain strong regardless of who is in charge. We really are very fortunate.