Eight Cadets Become Officers In Yard Ceremony

As a military band in crisp white uniforms played in the Yard, 8 graduating members of the Harvard Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) were sworn in as commissioned officers yesterday, the largest ROTC class at Harvard in more than a decade.

Outgoing Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 was also presented with a Patriotic Civilian Service Award for his support of ROTC on campus.

“I am very moved to have been recognized for supporting ROTC here, or as I would prefer to construe it more generally, as, the citation reads, for “Patriotic Civilian Service,’” Lewis wrote in an e-mail after the ceremony. “I believe we owe a great debt to the young people graduating from Harvard who have chosen to serve their country by defending our freedoms in any form of national service, and most particularly in the armed forces.”

University President Lawrence H. Summers, unlike his predecessor Neil L. Rudenstine, has so far attended both of the ROTC commissioning ceremonies during his tenure. Summers spoke to the newly-commissioned officers about the importance of their service.

“There are no Harvard graduates of whom I am more proud,” Summers said. Summers also said he was glad to see Lewis recognized for his strong support of ROTC.

Roger C. Taylor ’53, a retired Navy commander who graduated from the Harvard ROTC program, gave the keynote address, imploring the graduates to avoid becoming numb to the realities of warfare with advanced technology.

“War is not a video game,” he said. “Be alert to the power of high technology to deceive you into unawareness of the difference.”

During the ceremony, each of the graduates took the military oath of service, administered by Taylor, and posed for photographs with family. In addition, according to military tradition, each graduate received his or her first salute as an officer.

Ensign Jeffrey C. Munns ’03 spoke about his work with the Harvard National Defense Forum, the on-campus military affairs forum. Munns expressed gratitude that this year, unlike years past, Harvard cadets and midshipman were allowed to list their ROTC commitment in the yearbook.

Lieutenant Brian L. Baker, a professor of military science at MIT, appreciatively of both Summers and Lewis as strong advocates of ROTC on campus. Baker credited them with the upswing in recruiting that accounted for this year’s larger than average class.

The official commissioning took place before the formal ceremony in front of the John Harvard statue with each newly-commissioned officer taking an oath of office and signing a commission in front of an American flag.

The newly-commissioned officers in the Class of 2003 include:

Ensigns Taylor A. Banks, E. Rebecca Gantt, David G. Germakian, John M. Harrington, Jeffrey C. Munns and Victoria O. Santana and second-lieutenants Stacie K. Persons and Alexis M. Presti. Cadet Michael A. Zacchilli also took part in the ceremony but will not receive his official commission until August.

—Staff writer Rachel E. Dry can be reached at dry@fas.harvard.edu.