As a veteran, I was mortified by the large number of U.S. military veterans involved in the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. The Joint Chiefs of Staff reacted by reminding service members to abide by their oaths of office — and yet one of the many things the insurrection revealed is that some troops might not understand their sworn duty to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
This realization invalidates the longstanding assumption that servicemembers have acquired an understanding of the U.S. Constitution in their high school civics classes, and as one veteran argued recently, suggests that the military needs to fill this crucial educational gap. How might it go about doing so?
First, on the day new servicemembers are sworn in, they should receive their own copies of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Symbolism and pageantry should mark this moment. And recruits should understand they should keep this copy close throughout their career.