Grad takes USAFA to Task Over Constitution
And, no, this isn’t about Michael Weinstein.
Ralph Palmer, USAFA Class of 1967, has been campaigning for a few years to get the US Constitution put back into the pocket-sized cadet “Contrails,” which the Colorado Springs Gazette says is “better known as the ‘Cadet Bible.'” The small tome is a collection of history, facts, and miscellaneous details that fourthclass (first year) cadets are often required to memorize.
It is not unusual to see pictures of cadets braced at attention with the small book gripped firmly a few inches in front of their face. They’re supposed to be reading it and learning.
Apparently, the US Constitution — which had been routinely included in Contrails for decades — was removed, though supposedly it wasn’t done for malicious reasons:
“Sometimes it has to do with space, flat out,” said Air Force Academy spokesman Master Sgt. Chris Dewitt. “Everyone has things they want in ‘Contrails’ and it has the potential to grow to the size of ‘War and Peace’.”
Like the other USAFA grad often in the news, Palmer is a former lawyer, but he isn’t suing the Academy to force them to put the founding American document back in.
In 2007, he began writing to fellow alumni and top academy brass, asking that the Constitution be reinstated.
“It was my own modest insurrection,” said the Harvard-educated lawyer.
He contacted the academy’s Association of Graduates, which funds ‘Contrails,’ and offered to pay for printing of the next edition (an estimated $20,000) if it would include the document.
They said content was dictated by the academy. So Palmer leveled his letter-writing sights on the academy’s top general.
In 2008, he wrote Superintendent Lt. Gen. John Regni about the omission. Regni agreed the “important document” was essential to ‘Contrails’ and would be included in 2009.
It was, but it didn’t include the Bill of Rights or other amendments. Late last year, Palmer wrote a lengthy letter to General Gould, which doesn’t appear to have criticized his leadership, questioned his ideology, or called for his ouster:
“General, I’m very worried about the future of our democratic republic . . . many Constitutional limitations on our military are now defunct or badly frayed. With good intentions and plans for perfect security, our republic may be dissolving.”
USAFA replied by saying it would give every cadet a copy of the Constitution.
The Gazette now reports the Academy is saying
it would restore the full document to ‘Contrails.’
Palmer was “overjoyed,” though like any good military man knows nothing is certain until after it is executed (and even then…). So he waits.
Palmer is right. Every cadet needs to have a great understanding of, and respect for, the US Constitution they have already sworn to “uphold and protect.”
It is admirable that Palmer apparently had the determination and respect to positively influence his alma mater — without, say, demeaning and degrading them in the press.
The image above is a screen capture of a publicly available, and very entertaining, video.