|American Continental Army|
American colonists considered themselves free-born Englishmen and did not want to accept less. They acknowledged the king’s authority, but a limited authority based on their individual colony charters, and they denied Parliament’s authority to regulate their internal affairs.
From the 1700s to early 1800s the colonies were self-governing republics. Things changed in 1763 after the French and Indian War, which brought large British armies to the colonies. Also, the British government decided that the colonies should share in the enormous cost of that war.
The Americans hated and feared standing armies, and part of the reasons for the Revolutionary War lay in the fact that King George III quartered his redcoats in private homes, suspended charters and laws, and imposed martial law.
|George Washington favored a |
George Washington, who had to deal with thirteen colonial militias and the Continental Army defended the idea of a standing army. In September 1776 he wrote to the Continental Congress: “To place any dependence upon Militia, is, assuredly, resting upon a broken staff. Men just dragged from the tender Scenes of domestick life; unaccustomed to the din of Arms; totally unacquainted with every kind of military skill, which being followed by a want of confidence in themselves, when opposed to Troops regularly train'd, disciplined, and appointed, superior in knowledge and superior in Arms, makes them timid, and ready to fly from their own shadows.... The Jealousies of a standing Army, and the Evils to be apprehended from one, are remote; and, in my judgment, situated and circumstanced as we are, not at all to be dreaded; but the consequence of wanting one, according to my Ideas, formed from the present view of things, is certain, and inevitable Ruin; for if I was called upon to declare upon Oath, whether the Militia have been most serviceable or hurtful upon the whole; I should subscribe to the latter.”
When the War for Independence ended, the government of the Confederation was faced with one gigantic problem—money—for foreign and domestic debts and for the back pay and pensions of soldiers.
|Brigadier General Francis Marion,|
Although individual states preferred a militia, it was generally agreed that Congress must have the authority to raise and support standing armies to protect frontier settlements, the national government, and the nation when threatened by foreign powers. Even so, some Federal Convention representatives wanted to limit the size of the national standing army, but a vote rejected that motion.
Despite spirited debate and universal distrust of standing armies, most members of the Federal Convention wanted to strengthen the military powers of the general government and did so through Article I, Section 8:
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.
Our present military organizational structure is a result of the National Security Act of 1947 that restructured the "War Department" into the "Department of Defense."
There are five military branches: Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard.
The Army is the oldest U.S. Military service, officially established by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775. The Air Force is the youngest military service, created in 1947 under the National Security Act of 1947. Prior to 1947, the Air Force was a separate Corps of the Army. The Navy was officially established by the Continental Congress in 1775 with the primary mission to maintain the freedom of the seas. The Marines were officially established November 10, 1775, by the Continental Congress to act as a landing force for the US Navy. In 1798, however, Congress established the Marine Corps as a separate service. The US Coast Guard was originally established as the Revenue Cutter Service in 1790. In 1915, it was reformed as the US Coast Guard, under the Treasury Department. In 1967, the Coast Guard was transferred to the Department of Transportation.
Quotes from President Ronald Reagan who held a special place in his heart for the military:
“The willingness of some to give their lives so that others might live never fails to evoke in us a sense of wonder and mystery.”
“If we really care about peace, we must stay strong. If we really care about peace, we must, through our strength, demonstrate our unwillingness to accept an ending of the peace. We must be strong enough to create peace where it does not exist and strong enough to protect it where it does. That’s the lesson of this century…”
“Veterans know better than anyone else the price of freedom, for they've suffered the scars of war. We can offer them no better tribute than to protect what they have won for us. That is our duty. They have never let America down. We will not let them down.”