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The following address was given at the Veterans Day celebration at the Town of Cary's Veterans Freedom Park by the Senior Vice Commander of the Franklin-Sloan Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7383 on Veterans Day — during the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month — in 2017.

Veterans Day Address

Distinguished officials – Honored guests – Brothers and Sisters.

Thank you for the privilege of speaking here today.

I served – in what seems like several lifetimes ago – as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft. Bragg and in the 2nd Aviation Battalion in the Republic of Korea.

Today, I’m retired, and proudly serve as a house-husband and as Senior Vice-Commander of the Franklin-Sloan Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7383 here in Cary.


I respectfully invite you to our VFW Post’s Flag Retirement Ceremony that will be conducted at 3:00 pm. today by Comrade Jack Miller. If you have not been to a flag-retirement ceremony, I strongly commend it to you. You will witness, and be an integral part of, a moving ritual that pays final tribute to banners that have served as the living symbols of our country.


We hear frequently, in various and varied venues, that the United States of America is the greatest country on earth. I too hold this opinion. But the reason I hold it is not for the usual reasons advanced for its greatness. I believe that what makes this country great are words – specifically, a collection of words neatly handwritten over two centuries ago on four sheets of what are now yellowed parchment. That collection of words begins thus:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

In my life I have sworn four oaths – that is – I have stood before assembled family, friends, honored guests, and various dignitaries – and in their august presence – swore to pursue certain courses of actions – and called on the highest power to assist and guide me in fulfilling those promises.

In simple terms – I have given my word.

The tradition of swearing an oath goes back thousands of years – and through many cultures. The common thread in all these traditions is that societies have recognized – that the act sworn will be difficult to accomplish – or that the promise made – burdensome to keep. The one swearing an oath recognizes that these difficulties might well present, but nevertheless commits him- or her-self to proceed – despite them – because the object of the oath is important and worthy. And he asks the Creator for Her help.

On a beautiful June day in 1982, I swore an oath to love, honor, and cherish the love and light of my life, my wife Geraldine, ‘til death do us part. That was my third oath sworn in this life.

On November 3, 1975 I swore my first oath, that of enlistment in the United States Army. Like millions before me – and I guess like millions after me as well! – I promised to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, and I asked my God to help me.

Eleven years later, after finally passing the exam, I was admitted to the bar as a lawyer. And like every police officer; firefighter; judge and justice; president and vice president of the United States; member of Congress; city, county, and state legislator; state governor; and public official of every sort including dogcatcher, I swore an oath which included a promise to uphold and defend the Constitution.

The process that moved me most in practicing as a lawyer was the filing of what is called the Great Writ, the writ of Habeas Corpus. In my 30-year career, I filed this Writ three times, and each time I had a chill run down my spine as I handed the paperwork over to the clerk of the court. I’m sort of a romantic dreamer, and filing the Writ did make me feel that I was indeed – a part of the ages.

Habeas corpus is from the Latin: “produce the body,” or “bring me the body.” The Writ is issued to the chief of police, or the warden of a jail, prison, or penitentiary – and commands that official to bring an incarcerated individual forthwith before a judicial officer and to attempt to justify to him or her the legality of the detention. If the explanation falls short of the process due an American citizen, that citizen walks out of the courtroom with me – into the sunlight of freedom – and there is nothing – short of high treason – that the governor of the state, the attorney general, or even the president of the United States – can do about it.

This is because The Writ is guaranteed in the first article of the Constitution of the United States –

and the Constitution is guaranteed because a critical mass of citizens –

you, me, and millions like you and me –

all the way back to 1789

have all

at some point or points in our and their lives

sworn to uphold and defend it.

This deeply held and fundamental national ethos – which profoundly respects the concept that the liberty of every person – from the least to the greatest among us – is sacred – and will be jealously guarded – is the bedrock of what made and continues to make this magnificent experiment in government [of, by, and for the people] – our United States of America – the great country that it is.

I am proud to be a veteran because I believe that United States military veterans constitute a significant percentage of those who – through the ages – have sworn to uphold and defend our Constitution.

I’ve decided to re-affirm my support of our country's Constitution here today – in this 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – and I respectfully invite you to join me. For those who will accept my invitation, I’ll read the text of the oath so you’ll know precisely what you would swear or affirm.

I stress that this is no more than an invitation, and does not rise to the level of a request. It is an offer to participate in a voluntary act, and a declination will be honored and respected as an exercise of the freedom that we cherish and collectively protect.

In that vein, I point out a symbolic instance that might have passed under your notice. In many official and social gatherings, those assembled are invited to join in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. When the pledge is recited, and uniformed members of the United States armed forces are present, those uniformed members will stand and render a salute to the flag. But they will not recite the words of the Pledge. They will remain silent.

The reason that those personnel remain silent, grounded in long-standing custom and made official policy in Title 10 United States Code section 36, is that the wearing of the uniform, demonstrating membership in an armed service,

is the ultimate pledge of allegiance.

Here is the oath I will swear today:

I, George McDowell – do solemnly swear [others may elect to affirm] – that I will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States – against all enemies, foreign and domestic – and that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution. I take this obligation freely – without mental reservation or purpose of evasion. – So help me God.

If you would join me – and I again stress that this is wholly voluntary – please stand – raise your right hand – and repeat after me.

I, [state your name] – do solemnly swear – or – do solemnly affirm – that I will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States – against all enemies, foreign and domestic – and that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution. – I take this obligation freely – without mental reservation or purpose of evasion. – So help me God.

Thank you!



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522 Reedy Creek Rd.
Cary, NC 27513
Lat. 35.7974
Long. -78.7666


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