Interestingly, a number of graduates did not have the courage to reveal their names rather they took the moniker of “anonymous”.
The letter is critical of a number of issues related to the use of the military in recent events throughout the country. Regarding that, it is my understanding to this point that only police and some National Guards have been used to suppress riots, looting and the general mayhem we have seen recorded that have followed peaceful protests.
There are those of us who wish that the military had been used to stop the damage in Minneapolis and other places—but they weren’t because the mayor and governor were weak kneed.
Before we start on this topic, lest there be any misunderstanding, I want to go on record about the killing of George Floyd, which allegedly has sparked the protests and some/much of the subsequent violence. The use of force observed in the killing of Mr. Floyd recently was clearly tragic and unnecessary. It has been rapidly taken to the authorities who have remanded the officer who killed Mr. Floyd and his associated officers for arraignment and subsequent trial for their actions.
George Floyd has been portrayed as a “good man”. However, let us not forget that the aforementioned Mr Floyd had a long record of violence and criminality and died with fentanyl (86 ng/mL of “free morphine”) in his system, had recently ingested methamphetamine and only came to light to the authorities when he allegedly attempted to cash a counterfeit $20 bill. This in no way justifies the treatment and the tragic manner in which he was killed. Perhaps he had been trying to turn his life around as has been stated.
We have been endowed by our Creator with free will. Sometimes we make poor choices but no one today wants to recognize that choices have consequences.
I would like to address just two of the highlights of this letter below.
One premise is that “Sadly, the government has threatened to use the Army in which you serve as a weapon against fellow Americans engaging in these legitimate protests. Worse, military leaders, who took the same oath you take today, have participated in politically charged events,”
“The oath taken by those who choose to serve in America’s military is aspirational. We pledge service to no monarch; no government; no political party; no tyrant,” the group wrote, adding that they were “concerned that fellow graduates serving in senior-level, public positions are failing to uphold their oath of office and their commitment to Duty, Honor, Country.”
It would appear that the signers of the letter failed to read and understand a number of things.
First is the officer’s oath of allegiance which states: I, [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; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
Second is the Constitution Article III Section III of the United States which addresses Posse Comitatius. It states, “Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State or Territory by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion.”
“The President, by using the militia or the armed forces, or both . . . shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy, if it—(1) so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law . . . . ”
Unfortunately, peaceful (legitimate) protests, which I think everyone believes are just, have had a tendency to turn violent. It seems to me that the use of violence in protests which have turned into riots against legitimate authority, violence against the police, property owners and others is infringing upon others right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These events clearly deprive a class of people of their right to protection under the law.
The author(s) of the aforementioned letter further have perhaps failed to recognize that the both national guards and military forces have been used multiple times in the past, to include the recent past by both Republican and Democratic presidents.
Do you feel as a citizen that it is your right to feel safe in your abode, your car or place of business?
If yes, who do you expect to protect your life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness against riot, looting, mayhem physical assault and possible death? If not the states, who cannot or will not protect people, then the United States government?
As inspirational as Duty, Honor, Country is, the oath taken by officers would appear very clear. “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic“. Are those who would cause destruction and mayhem an enemy?
So I am puzzled by their lack of understanding of the oath they took and the Constitution of the United States. They were required to study it as cadets!
Is it the inability to read and understand the English language? The failure of our educational system? A failure of the values of West Point? Or perhaps the unmitigated hatred of a president they cannot abide flamed by a media and press who have lost their sense of justice and integrity.
Maybe it is their disloyalty that the writers so passionately desire to attribute to others. It should be said that if the writers had not targeted two members of the class of 1986—Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper—that what they wrote could be said about any group of graduates serving in any administration by those who did not like the policies of that administration.
In my opinion, the originators of this letter have taken Trump derangement/hate syndrome to an extreme and in so doing have sullied the reputation of West Point—shame on them! Most likely the idea of the letter originated from a Biden staffer or a wanta be Biden staffer. The originator most likely is looking for a downstream payoff and does not worry about sullying the reputation of West Point. Unfortunately he must have almost failed law as a cadet, as pointed out above.
I am sure that both the President of Association of Graduates and Superintendent of West Point believe that being a graduate of West Point is a sacred honor and the comradeship of fellow graduates is a most critical bond. If they had their way this issue would go away and the signers return to the fold of graduates whose solemn duty is to defend the constitution.
Maybe the originator and signers should file Duty, Honor and Country off of their class rings if they choose to not repudiate the letter.
Contrary to the letter almost all graduates still support the constitution and the academy motto of “Duty, Honor, Country.”
[i] I am very grateful for the input of several West Point classmates whose thoughts have been incorporated into this response.