Oaths of Office

"The duty imposed upon him [the president] to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, follows out the strong injunctions of his oath of office, that he will 'preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.' The great object of the executive department is to accomplish this purpose; and without it, be the form of government whatever it may, it will be utterly worthless for offence or defense; for the redress of grievances or the protection of rights; for the happiness, or good order, or safety of the people."

- Joseph Story, (1851). “Commentaries on the constitution of the United States”

When an individual pledges himself or herself with the oath of office, he or she is affirming a commitment to a set of ideals and obligations transcending oneself. Oaths are not limited to federal office, though the presidential oath is one of the most visible. Such statements exist at many levels, including vows to provide equal opportunity to students, to ensure public safety, and to treat all with compassion. Oaths of office exist as the verbal and written expectations bestowed upon an individual to uphold the duties of public office and are meant to symbolize the individual's ascendance to a higher cause.

Through the oath, the individual acknowledges their loyalty - not to an appointee or a figure of power - but rather, to the service of the public, because the public represents the common good of society. An oath is not solely an affirmation to the loyalty of the public, but also a pledge to fulfill and exceed the responsibilities of the position. When oaths are disregarded, the public suffers as well.

In this gallery, you will see oaths from all sectors of society, including school boards, police departments, fire departments, emergency medical services, human resource organizations, and elected office. The similarities of oaths of office across different positions underscores the common understanding that a public position is not to be taken lightly, but with the utmost seriousness and dedication. Oaths underscore what it means to serve the people.

Oaths of Office