Saturday, September 1, 2012

Honor and chivalry in the U.S. Military Code of Conduct

Article 1. I am an American fighting man. I will serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life.

Article 2. I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender my men while they still have the means to resist.

Article 3. If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

Article 4. If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give no information nor take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.

Article 5. When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give my name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.

Article 6. I will never forget that I am an American fighting man, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and the United States of America.


Thus ran the 1955 version of the U.S. military code of conduct.
Honor, loyalty, discipline, sacrifice, in a word, chivalry is woven into these articles.

During the war in Vietnam, the appalling conditions our captured men were subjected to, the interrogations and torture, but most of all the realization that part of the nation they loved and were fighting for—pacifists and anti-war activists—disparaged their sacrifice and were even helping the enemy win the battle of American public opinion, all of this had to have brought on moments of sadness, despondency, and self-questioning–”What’s the point? What am I fighting for after all?” In those troubled moments, recourse to prayer and these short lines of the U.S. military code of conduct must have been of great help to all in thwarting the temptation to lose the will to resist and capitulate.

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