ROTC back at Harvard after break due to Vietnam protests
By AARON KIDD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 14, 2016
ROTC programs for all services are active again at Harvard University after a more than four-decade absence sparked by protests during the Vietnam War.
Harvard President Drew Faust and Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James signed an agreement this spring that officially re-established an Air Force ROTC program at the Ivy League institution.
Navy ROTC was welcomed back to the university in 2011 after Congress repealed the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that barred homosexuals from serving in the military. Army ROTC returned six months later. The Marine Corps and Coast Guard do not have ROTC initiatives, though the Navy hosts an ROTC option at select schools for cadets who would like to become Marine Corps officers.
“Across time and space, they have given generously of themselves on our behalf, and they deserve our respect, our admiration and our gratitude,” Faust said at the April 22 signing ceremony, according to a Harvard statement. “So as we complete our work to return ROTC to campus … let us renew our support for them and our commitment to shared values: service, community, inclusion and opportunity.”
Harvard was among the first universities to sign onto the ROTC program when it was launched in 1916. Cadets attend college like other students while receiving military and officer training for their chosen branch of service through an ROTC unit at or near their school.
After Harvard severed its relationship with ROTC in 1971, cadets ventured off campus to the nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology for ROTC training and courses.
Harvard’s military history dates to the Revolutionary War, when George Washington’s troops encamped in Harvard Yard after the Battle of Bunker Hill. Eighteen Harvard graduates — third most, behind West Point and the Naval Academy — have received the Medal of Honor.
The John Harvard statue sits in Harvard Yard in this undated photo provided by Harvard University. ROTC programs for all services are active again at the university after a more than four-decade absence sparked by protests during the Vietnam War.
COURTESY OF HARVARD PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND COMMUNICATIONS