puts its best foot forward
a recent ceremony, members of U.Va.s Reserve Officers
Training Corps programs honor U.S. prisoners of war, hundreds
of whom are unaccounted for after conflicts such as the
Korean and Vietnam wars.
By Fariss Samarrai
graduating last May from U.Va. with a foreign affairs degree,
Navy Ensign Michael Goldston was a member of the Navy ROTC program
here. Last week, he entered aviation school at Pensacola Naval
Air Station in Florida.
two-thirds of the commissioned officers in the military receive
their initial training in ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps)
programs at universities around the nation. The purpose of ROTC
is to provide initial leadership training for future naval and
military officers. Many of these students receive full scholarships
and stipends and are committed to a minimum of four years of active
service. The programs include a combination of naval or military
science classes, weekly drills and summer training at military
posts or aboard Navy ships and aircraft.
a student, Goldston often debated foreign policy with close friends
who were opposed to military service.
of the great things about a democracy and a great school like
U.Va. is that we can openly discuss our differences and hopefully
find some intelligent common ground, he said. Unfortunately,
this is not so true in much of the rest of the world. We shouldnt
take these freedoms lightly. We all need to work in our own way
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, and President
Bushs subsequent deployment of U.S. troops, has brought
home the seriousness of a ROTC commitment for midshipmen and cadets.
Two hundred thirty-eight students are currently enrolled in U.Va.s
Air Force, Army and Navy ROTC programs. These students could eventually
serve in this or other wars after graduation and further military
students are feeling a heightened awareness of what they are doing
as future officers in the Air Force, and of what it means for
the future of America, said Capt. Eunice Ciskowski, assistant
professor of air science in the Air Force ROTC program.
realize that if we get into a lengthy war, I could eventually
be sent to a combat zone, said Jamie Sullivan, a fourth-year
English major in the Army ROTC program. My family and friends
are worried, but I feel a greater sense of responsibility. I want
to do more than just donate blood. We are a superpower, and that
brings great responsibilities.
is, in a sense, stepping into the boots of her father, a retired
Army lieutenant colonel who lost 35 friends and colleagues in
the attack on the Pentagon. Her older sister is a West Point graduate
and combat engineer with the 82nd Airborne Division. Her younger
sister is planning to enroll in a ROTC program when she begins
college next year.
a family tradition, Sullivan said. Ive been
around the military my whole life and its a part of who
I am. My friends call me G.I. Jamie. ROTC has given me a sense
of responsibility and discipline and great confidence. These are
attributes I can carry with me through life, inside or outside
who join the military, and students who enter a ROTC program,
usually have a strong sense of duty to country, a patriotism that
may seem old fashioned except in times of national crisis. About
75 percent of the officers in active or reserve service have a
familial history with the military.
who dont have a military background often dont understand
the military, but they do tend to support us during times of crisis,
said Army Lt. Col. Hampton Hite, chair of the Army ROTC program.
Hites father also served in the Army. Those of us
in the military need to do a better job of communicating who we
are and what were about. While we may be called to war at
any time, our ultimate purpose is to deter war and maintain peace.
Most people in the military feel they are working for peace every
military people also feel a conflict between the desire to maintain
peace and the realities of waging war.
am first and foremost a Christian, said Goldston. It
was a long road for me to find my calling. I had to reconcile
my desire to serve the country in the military with the commandment
that thou shalt not kill. I had many discussions with
people inside and outside church, with my family and even with
pacifists. I decided that, even if I was in an offensive attack,
I would be fighting in defense of my country, which is a fight
for the greater good of human rights, for an end of oppression,
and for peace, which is promoted by the U.S. across the world.
It is an honorable thing to stand and protect those ideals. The
recent mass murder of civilians in New York demonstrates that
this is still a dangerous world and we have a duty to protect
our freedoms, even at great sacrifice.
nations wars are fought by its young, said Capt. Dick
Bedford, commanding officer of the Navy ROTC program at U.Va.
The midshipmen and cadets we train here at U.Va. will follow
in the long tradition of military officers who took the oath and
have served their nation with honor. Our young men and women are
ready and willing to take on the challenges that the new century
an F-14 naval flight officer with 24 years of Navy service and
a family history of military service, came to U.Va. this summer
to head the Navy ROTC program. He began the initial training for
his career in the ROTC program at Tulane University.
a ROTC program is one of the most sought-after jobs in the military,
particularly for a program at a first-rate university like U.Va.,
he said. The military needs the best and the brightest to
lead our young sailors and soldiers. Some of the very best come