HARVARD YARD, 3 June 2009 -- General David Petraeus and Harvard President Drew Faust spoke at the annual ROTC Commissioning Ceremony in Harvard Yard, to a record crowd.
General Petraeus, the CENTCOM commander, spoke (text video) of the importance of individual leaders, and stressed the importance of wise leaders who can determine if adversaries are "reconcilable". He told the graduating ROTC students "you will learn the most about leadership from getting your hands dirty and your boots dusty". He suggested to Dr. Curtis L. Gilroy, Director of Accession Policy for Personnel and Readiness at the Department of Defense who was in the audience, that Harvard is a perfect place to recruit leaders that really matter. He told the graduates to live by 5 critical principles for leadership: lead by example, be humble, listen and learn, don't hesitate to make decisions, be a team player and a team builder, and don't take yourself too seriously but do take your work seriously.
President Faust began by announcing that Harvard will help fund the cost of tuition for veterans by participating in the new federal Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program. She said "Under this partnership, as many as 150 veterans will be able to receive substantial assistance to study at Harvard this fall. In the coming years, I hope this investment will be continued and even expanded across the Harvard campus". In her main remarks (text video) she told the graduates "Now you are being commissioned officially recognized not just as soldiers, but as leaders. I want to urge you today even as you prepare to leave these university halls to remain soldier-scholars, to use your intellectual gifts and your education as important dimensions of your leadership."
LTC Timothy Hall, Professor of Military Leadership at MIT and leader of the Army ROTC program for Harvard students, celebrated the graduates as post 9/11 volunteers who joined the "long Crimson line" of Harvard students serving their country in the military. He also introduced Captain Thomas Hudner, a Medal of Honor recipient in the audience, who was accepted at Harvard but attended the Naval Academy, and whose father, uncle and brother attended Harvard.
Capt. Darnell M. Whitt II '59, USN (ret), the 50th reunion speaker, said in his remarks "I am very sorry that the three ROTC Units which we knew then have moved away from Harvard; but I am very pleased that this ceremony is now being held right here in the center of the Yard". He looked ahead to such an event 50 years from now, and said that perhaps the current issues about the military at Harvard will have been resolved by then. Turning to President Faust and General Petraeus he told them that he expected them "to coordinate a compromise between the contending constituencies, not only on this campus, but also in the Congress and across the country -- in order to achieve the inclusion about which you spoke so well last year, President Faust; an in order to improve the efficiency of our military forces which you lead, General Petraeus."
Also in attendance were Brigadier General Dr. Oscar DePriest IV '74 and LTC Philip Peck, whose brothers Major (ret) Dr. Charles DePriest '77 and Steven Peck '79 were the ones who prompted the initiation and institutionalization of the ROTC opportunities for Harvard students at MIT after Harvard decertified its ROTC programs by the early 1970s. At the ceremony, members of Advocates for Harvard ROTC and the Harvard ROTC Alumni Fund were thanked for their support of ROTC and the ceremony.
Receiving Army commissions were Second Lieutenants Thomas M. Barron, Daniel K. Bilotti, Roxanne E. Bras, and Vincent M. Chiappini. Also present was Cadet Andrei A. Doohovskoy, who will graduate in the fall with a Master's degree and be commissioned then. Receiving Marine Corps commissions were Second Lieutenants Joseph M. Kristol, Domenico A. Pellegrini and Daniel G. West.
(click photos for captions and higher resolution versions)
Previous Harvard ROTC Commissioning Ceremonies: 2002