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Letters from alumni about ROTC on campus

Please note that Mr. McDiarmid's letter, of March 14, 2004, is the first one to appear about the ROTC in a few years.

June 21, 2004

I was curious reading Hugh C. McDiarmid '56’s remarks about how the alumni and Friends of Princeton ROTC “appears to be a crude effort to hype service in the military.” At a time when so many Americans and several Princetonians are risking their lives overseas, I wonder what aspect of their service, exactly, Mr. McDiarmid believes is being “hyped”?

Jackson Eaton ‘99
Former Captain, U.S. Army
Allentown, Pa.

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June 10, 2004

Lest my classmate Hugh McDiarmid '56 forget, we had choice which today is limited to  Army ROTC. We both chose Navy ROTC, which was run off campus after VietNam. I contributed to the new "Friends..." without any sense of being hustled, to restore the same range of choice Hugh & I had. Today our volunteer Armed Forces need educated leader-officers in all four branches. Let today's Princetonians have full choice while on campus.

Peter Gillette '56 p'84
Minneapolis, Minn.

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March 14, 2004

It's enough to have to wade through elaborate, unsolicited, and shameless alumni money hustles for Princeton athletics each year, but now comes an appalling hustle for something called "Alumni and Friends of Princeton ROTC," which appears to be a crude effort to hype, promote, and reward service or careers in the military.

Surely, undergraduates are capable of making their own choices — involving athletics, ROTC or, hey, maybe even academics — without paid inducements from their elders. Aren't they?

Hugh C. McDiarmid '56
Rochester Hills, Mich.

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October 30, 2001

"The Wall Street Journal" recently described most effectively the disdain with which the Ivy League schools view the ROTC program, Princeton and Cornell excepted. The terrorist tragedies of September give poignant proof of how short-sighted and unwise this policy is.

In World War II, Princeton provided, literally, hundreds of ROTC officers who fought and led with distinction. In our "Class of 1942 War Book" there are no fewer than 86 stories about our ROTC officers who served America well, some also serving in Korea, even Vietnam.

On behalf of the Class of 1942, I would like to give copies of our book to the two ROTC graduates of the Class of 2001, Lieutenants Geoffrey F. Gasperini and Matthew Scherrer. Please send your current addresses to: Princeton ’42 Book, 9 Baynard Peninsula, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928. You two are truly "In the nation’s service"!

John Farrington ’42
Hilton Head Island, S.C.

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October 23, 2001

The following is a copy of a letter sent to President Tilghman:

I read with great interest your installation address, The Role of the Academy in Times of Crisis, and your call for students to develop expertise in public service by developing a strong sense of civic responsibility, including challenging prevailing orthodoxies and a departure from the status quo.

One campus orthodoxy that needs to be challenged and changed from the status quo is a disdain for the military by students and faculty at Ivy League universities. Banning ROTC, banning on-campus military recruiters, and bashing the FBI and the CIA for their clandestine activities that root out terrorists is a mind-set left over from the Vietnam War and the campus fight for gays in the military.

At Harvard, only 69 percent of students were in favor of a military retaliation against those who destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon. This is totally out of touch with the rest of the country. According to campus newspaper surveys, only 38 percent of students said they would be willing to take part in military action themselves. The elitist and privileged attitude that military service, fire protection, and police work may be necessary but are somehow beneath the dignity and sensitivity of Ivy League students is wrong and needs to be addressed by your administration.

Please exert your moral leadership and influence to restore the time-honored values of duty, honor, and country to our young people. Princeton needs to actively promote honorable careers in the military, a more clandestine CIA, and a besieged FBI fighting terrorists. Too often, today’s students think patriotism means flying a flag, forwarding a few e-mails about candlelight vigils, and worrying whether "God Bless America" should be sung in our public schools.

At the very least, Princeton needs to actively promote its ROTC leadership program.

It is very important for a new Princeton president to step forward with a focused agenda that helps this generation of students understand more clearly that freedom has to be won on the battlefields of life, both militarily and diplomatically, and to prepare young minds for both of these types of conflicts. Only by restoring this balance can Princeton truly claim its proper role of "Princeton in the nation’s service."

Robert C. Hazard, Jr. ’56
Paradise Valley, Ariz.

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