KEEP ROTC

The Mail

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

As an officer originally commissioned from the ROTC program at Harvard. I am thoroughly disturbed at the apparently rapid progress of the movement to abolish the program, either directly or through the device of eliminating academic credits and the faculty status required by federal law.

However we might wish it otherwise, the possibility of war will be with us for the foreseeable future, until such time as an effective international law enforcement system can be established. Given that basic assumption, this nation must maintain an effective and expandable military force, composed in the main of well-trained and well-led citizen-soldiers, rather than rely entirely on mercenaries. Such a force, in both its active and reserve components, will necessarily require a great many young men, including present and future students, and will also require the highest type of leadership--the type of commanders who are most commonly found among university students who are qualified by specialized military training in addition to their native intelligence, intellectual background and overall background. Unless this source of leadership continues to come in quantity from the universities, our military leadership will become a vacuum to be filled by lesser men.

Harvard points with justifiable pride to her preparation of young men for leadership in every respect of the affairs of mankind--business and industry, government, the professions and the arts. Why, indeed, should not Harvard continue to provide leadership for the armed forces which, in the future as in the past half century, will no doubt have as great an impact on technology, history and human society as any other profession; for any student of history knows that the preservation of liberty and peace at home and abroad, the implementation of the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation, the liberation of Europe and Asia, the enforcement of civil rights laws and decisions, and the maintenance of internal security, were in the final analysis accomplished by the armed forces.

Harvard also prides herself on the variety of opportunity and experience which she offers to her student body, giving to each individual the maximum freedom in conducting his personal affairs, even to extremes which have for some been the cause of alarm. Yet, serious consideration is now being given to denying individual students the right to pursue, on an entirely voluntary basis, a course of military training sanctioned and encouraged by the government of the United States and provided with practically no cost to either the students or the university. Such a course of action, if taken, singles out a single activity to be excluded from university recognition and denies to the individual the choice of opportunity, the right to participate, the liberty of conscience and the very academic freedom which Harvard has always stood for.

As a practical matter, the abolition of ROTC in effect would require every Harvard graduate to enter the armed forces in the lowest enlisted grade, instead of the position of leadership which his general education, plus military training, now permits him to assume. One cannot help but wonder about the feelings of such a graduate frustrated by the lack of challenge in his military assignment, into which the policy of his own university has thrust him. One can also imagine that many potential Harvard men will not come to college at all, due to the termination of scohlarship aid presently offered through the ROTC program, and due to the failure of the university to offer an officer-training program which they desire.

Harvard also points with justifiable pride to the patriotism and service which she and her sons have exhibited for three centuries and more. Memorial Hall, Soldiers Field and Memorial Church are ever-present reminders of the thousands of Harvard men who served and died on a hundred battlefields. Many of these men received their military education at Harvard through ROTC and earlier training programs. What, indeed, will be the effect of Harvard's alumni and on her national and international image if she now abandons her tradition of service to the nation, particularly under pressure from certain individuals who are openly revolutionary and nihilistic and who daily contribute to national discord on the campuses and in the streets?

The question of granting academic credits and faculty status to military professors may well be debatable, although I personally feel that both are fully justified. The courses, thoug focused on military and the technical are, in large measure, comparable to other college courses, and in any event contribute something to an individual's education which is not provided by other university departments. The military instructors, in their own fields, have professional education and experience comparable to most other faculty members in their respective fields. My point here is not whether they are justified. If the University and similar institutions feel otherwise, should they not attempt to have the law, regulations, and agreements changed through normal processes of legislation, negotiation and advocacy, rather than simply to "drop-out" or "cop-out" of a long-established, badly-needed federal program with which they may disagree in whole or in part?

This leads to my final point on the impact of Harvard's decision on the other colleges and universities of our nation. "The first flower of our wilderness and the star of our night," Harvard has become, through three centuries of educational experience, the model for almost every other institution of higher learning in this nation and abroad. But it is not age alone that has made Harvard so respected and influential but, more importantly, the fact that, in her approach and in her solution to so many problems, Harvard has invariably done the right and reasonable thing. In her continual striving for "Veritas," she has acted neither from haste or from pressure, but only after full knowledge and profound consideration.

As one who found in the ROTC program at Harvard a source of close and lasting friendships, as well as the beginning of a most interesting and satisfying career, I hope and trust that Harvard will act deliberately and wisely in this matter and that she will finally not disavow or weaken the officer-training program which she has supported so long and so well. Joseph M. Ambrose '42   Major General, AGC, MassARNG   The Adjutant General

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