Yesterday, September 17, 2011, was Constitution Day. 224 years ago delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia met for the last time and signed our Supreme Law of the land. While not without its flaws, as I tell my eighth grade students, it is strong yet flexible. Benjamin Franklin said it best about the Constitution and the delegates who created it:
"For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies..."
So what does the Constitution say about the military? This is most directly stated in Article 1 Section 8:
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
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;
Interestingly, since the Marines and Coast Guard are off-shoots of the Navy, and the modern Air Force (even though planes were decades from being invented) was initially the Army Air Force, all five branches of the military are Constitutional.