On May 26, 2000, I took an oath of office which was read to me by an Army Lieutenant Colonel who happened to be my dad. I had graduated from college the day before, and there I stood on the stage, in my service dress. I raised my right hand opposite my father's, and recited the following words:
"I, James R. Parsons, Jr., having been appointed a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America 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 upon which I am about to enter, so help me God."
And like that, most of the men and women in this country who have volunteered their lives to the same ideals were entrusted to my leadership; to die, if necessary, by the orders that I give. More than a little scary. I saluted my dad, gave him a big hug, my relatives descended on me to pin on my new rank, and we posed for a few photos to commemorate the occasion.
On the one hand, taking that oath and becoming a commissioned officer is "just a few words," and the relatives are there to take pictures and giggle at how grown up I look in a uniform. On the other hand, if they weren't there to giggle, I'd have been terrified at the weight my words held.
For anyone wondering how an Army lieutenant colonel commissioned me into the Air Force, the only requirement for the person administering the oath is that they have also taken the same oath. Plus, he's my dad--he can do anything.