“There are no students graduating this year of whom I am more proud than these three fine young men,” Summers said of former Army cadet Charles B. Cromwell ’02 and former Air Force cadets Sean D. McGrath ’02 and Brian R. Smith ’02.
“In taking those oaths of office they continue what is an important part of the Harvard tradition—they make a commitment to what is essential to the future of our country,” he added.
Yesterday marked the first time since 1969 that a Harvard president had spoken at the ROTC ceremony, officials believe (see related story, page B-2).
Summers has been an outspoken supporter of Harvard’s ROTC program, which was kicked off campus by the Faculty in 1969 and now continues through a cross-registration program at MIT that is funded through an alumni trust unaffiliated with the University.
Lieutenant Colonel Brian Baker, who is a professor of military science at MIT and commander of the Army battalion in which Harvard cadets participate, praised Summers as he introduced him to the audience.
“Larry Summers and Dean Lewis have done more for ROTC in the past 12 months than any leader at Harvard in the past 40 years,” he said of Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68, who sat on the Tercentenary Theatre stage alongside Summers.
Summers’ supportive comments throughout the year have drawn concern from those who believe that Harvard should keep institutional separation from the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuals.
At the ceremony, the three graduates took the military oath of service—Cromwell’s was administered by his ROTC commanding officer; McGrath’s by his grandfather, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army; and Smith’s by his brother, an officer in the Army.
The cadets also posed for photos with their families, the ROTC officers and Summers.
In accordance with military tradition, after each student received his commission he was saluted—for the first time as an officer—by a fellow officer to whom he then presented a silver dollar.
The recipients of the silver dollars are charged with following the careers of the new officers and returning the silver dollars to any who achieve the rank of general or admiral.
Summers was also presented with an honorary silver dollar.
Robert M. Leverone ’52, who served as a Navy midshipman while at Harvard, and was the keynote speaker at the ceremony, spoke to cadets of the importance of maintaining a civilian military and of upholding the responsibilities of their positions.
“You also will swear to obey the orders of the officers appointed over you,” he said. “I want to stress, those are lawful orders. You should have a strong moral compass—don’t lose it.”
At the end of the service, Cromwell was recognized for leading the Harvard ROTC Association, a student group he founded in October that has aimed to encourage interaction between cadets and other Harvard students.
Cromwell, who concentrated in history, will train as an air defense artillery officer in Texas before heading to Germany.
McGrath, who concentrated in psychology, will serve as a personnel officer in Texas. And Smith, an economics concentrator, has been commissioned as an acquisitions officer in Ohio.
—Staff writer Elisabeth S. Theodore can be reached at email@example.com.