Kenneth Hardin: I’ve remained true to my oath

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 11, 2023

I’ve remained true to my oath, so why can’t others?
I remember dates and numbers easily, so that’s probably why I did well in school. Our educational system is based on memorization and regurgitation instead of critical thinking, analyzing and problem solving. Back in April of 1988, on the day I was being discharged from active duty, I recall being led into a small room with a table and two chairs on opposite sides. A tall, fit OSI (Office of Special Investigations) officer, with a no-nonsense attitude and approach, walked in and sat across from me. Without wasting time on pleasantries, he said that with the high security clearance I held, I had been exposed to sensitive and privileged information. He uttered a stern directive, warning that if I ever discussed or divulged any information I’d learned for the rest of my life, I would be imprisoned. Thirty-five years later, I still vividly recall that conversation, and over three decades later, I’ve stayed true to my commitment without compromising my integrity. I don’t understand why the former racist in chief president and all
those Jan. 6 traitors didn’t do the same? Even if they were never in the military, I’m certain they’ve recited the Pledge of Allegiance before, and understand it’s not a suggestion or negotiable.

I believe in loyalty and trust. If I have to watch your moves or exhaust mental energy questioning where your allegiance and devotion are, I have no use for you. I’m a rule follower until I see the rules being applied unfairly and unevenly. Then I fight without fear of reprisal, repercussion, or concern for damage to my reputation. I share this to illustrate why I was the perfect man for the military. During my time in uniform, I received several medals, ribbons, letters of commendation and other accolades. When I was nearing the end of my enlistment, my commanding officer asked me if I wanted to be put in for an Air Force achievement medal. I declined because I didn’t think you should be rewarded for the service you’re expected to do.
The only medal from my time in service I cherish is the Good Conduct Medal. I’ve accepted even fewer awards as a civilian. I equally cherish being inducted into the N.C. Military Veterans Hall of Fame and receiving the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian award from the Salisbury VA Medical Center. Both were for meritorious service to my community and awarded
by veterans-based organizations. I don’t want a pat on the back or the top of my head for my long record of excellence. I want to show I take oaths and commitments seriously and will remain true to them regardless of the personal and professional costs. I just wish our elected representatives and those, who profess to be patriots and say they love this country unconditionally, would exhibit the same character and attributes.

The ones who sicken me the most are those who raised their right hand and swore an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States;” We have a former president who has admitted to illegally possessing highly classified documents, siding with Russian intelligence over our own, praising brutal dictators, admitting to and bragging about sexually
assaulting women, stoking racial hatred and division, using the office for financial gain, worsened a global pandemic, surrounded his presidency with corrupt and criminally convicted individuals, engaged in alleged election tampering, interfered in DOJ investigations, refused to show his tax returns, acknowledged he failed to pay taxes appropriately, separated immigrant
children from their parents with no process for them to reconcile, and lied about building a wall that Mexico would pay for. I could cite dozens more examples. With all this, there are so called confused, clueless and misguided patriots who still believe he’s a shining example of what this country needs and stands for. Those cowards, who are yelling the loudest, have never raised
their hand and worn the uniform of this country. There is no medal or recognition given for almost or nearly joining the military.

As a veteran, I’m disgusted with Trump’s encouragement of mob violence to overthrow our government. I extend my disgust to all his political cronies who’ve tried to rationalize and justify this seditious act of treason. We don’t send our brave men and women to foreign lands to die to preserve our democracy for it to be undermined here at home by those sworn to protect it. I hope to never see any of those who claim to love this country, yet defend those or remain silent about it being attacked from within, ever present a folded flag to a grieving family of a brave soldier who gave their life to defend our constitution.

Kenneth L. (Kenny) Hardin is a proud Veteran and the founder of the Veterans Social Center. He is also a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.