University President Drew G. Faust signed an agreement Friday with Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James to formally recognize the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at Harvard, ending a decades long separation between the two institutions born from Vietnam War-era protest.
In a Loeb House ceremony replete with a rendition of the national anthem and an Air Force color guard, Faust completed Harvard’s symbolic reconciliation with ROTC; Harvard welcomed Navy ROTC back to campus in 2011, and Army ROTC in 2012. Once a major presence on campus, the ROTC programs from each of the branches left Harvard after widespread student protest in the late 1960s.
“Today we complete our effort to bring the full complement of ROTC programs back to our campus through the full and formal recognition of the Air Force Reserve Officer’s Training Corps,” Faust said.
While much of Air Force ROTC’s training and programming will likely continue to take place at MIT, some activities may now take place on Harvard’s campus, according to cadets in the program. Recognition may also help grow Air Force ROTC, which, with four Harvard students, is the smallest of Harvard’s ROTC programs.
Zander E. Farrow ’16, an Air Force ROTC cadet, said after the ceremony that recognizing the program amounts to honoring the dedication of the individual cadets who participate.
“It’s formally recognizing the hard work and the training we’ve put into the program and also our dedication to serve six years in the military afterwards—at least that’s six years for me,” Farrow said. In her remarks, Faust traced the history of ROTC at Harvard and thanked the cadets for their service.
“We honor today the courage, devotion, and skill of women and men who continue to regard military service as public service and whose numbers I hope increase in the years ahead,” Faust said.
James discussed the mission of the Air Force and the important role students will play in the military.
“Leveraging the best talent that America has to offer is, is the secret weapon of the United States,” James said. “It’s even more important than that training and that technology and those concepts of operations.”
Students in each of Harvard’s ROTC programs were joined by University and military leaders at the event.—Staff writer Andrew M. Duehren can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @aduehren.
Cadet LandOn one hand, those in uniform often think of us as pampered students. Aside from the occasional weekend in the woods, we only train every other day. Meanwhile, active duty personnel find themselves immersed in a military environment 24/7. Our student counterparts, on the other hand, think we’re full-time soldiers.
So Much for CoverWhen walking into class in uniform, I feel like I’m on trial. The atmosphere becomes tense; people look at me as if I’m spearheading some sort of military takeover of Harvard.
Recognized, Not RespectedWhile President Faust was quick to reach out to those at West Point, she has been frustratingly slow to respond to the cadets and midshipmen on her own campus.
Harvard to Officially Recognize Air Force ROTC
Thank You, ROTCAs we understand better their sacrifices, we should be moved to gratitude, and from gratitude to action. Expanding the official recognition of ROTC at Harvard is a step forward on this path.