The Constitution: How much do you know?

  • Published
  • By Maj. Tammy Trychon
  • 4th Mission Support Squadron commander
Today, I ask you to take a few minutes to remember why we, as members of the U.S. Air Force, do what we do.

We get so bogged down in day-to-day taskings, taking care of customers or programs, that it's easy to focus on the fire right in front of you and forget the big picture.

What I mean is: What are we fighting for? What are we defending? What is our purpose?

Both the officer and enlisted oaths have the same beginning - I (state your name) do solemnly swear, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. We tend to focus on the defend portion, but we often lose sight of the support and Constitution part.

We often hear people refer to the military as "defending our flag" or "defending our way of life" and "defenders of freedom." The flag is a symbol of America. Our way of life is the result of what America stands for and freedom is the ideal that America is built on.

However, it is the Constitution that we actually swear to defend. Our Constitution is what truly sets America apart from other nations. It defines America.

Take a few moments to think about what you know about the Constitution. Most people can recognize the preamble to the Constitution. Think about what else you know.

How many articles are there in the Constitution?

How many amendments are there?

When was the Constitution signed?

When was the last amendment ratified?

Last question: What is the exact location of the actual Constitution?

I believe every military member should know the answer to this one. It is on display in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The next time you are in our nation's capital, you should stop by and see it. If you've sworn to give your life for it, it makes sense to see it if given the opportunity.

There is a scenario that deeply concerns me. Many of us have served in a foreign country at some point. If a foreigner asked U.S. servicemembers to identify the Constitution from a stack of documents, could most of them do it? Imagine the shame if they couldn't identify it. They are willing to die to protect it, but wouldn't recognize the philosophies and guidelines it contains.

The Constitution is not that long of a document. I encourage you to take a few minutes sometime and just scan it. There are some very interesting facts in it. It can be found at You may not memorize it, but at least be familiar enough with it to recognize it when you see it.

By the way, in answer to the above questions, there are seven Articles and 27 Amendments to the Constitution. It was signed Sept. 17, 1787, "in the 12th year of our Independence." That's almost 220 years ago. The last amendment was ratified May 7, 1992. Scan it and find some trivia questions of your own!