HARVARD YARD, 29 May 2013 -- Five graduating Harvard students were honored at the ROTC Commissioning ceremony, shifted indoors at the last minute because of weather, to an auditorium so packed that two generals were among those in the standing-room-only part of the audience.
LTC David R. Downer '63 (USAF retired), the 50th reunion class speaker, impressed upon the crowd that decisions have consequences, not only in wartime, where the consequences are life or death, but that in peacetime decisions can have the same effect. He said “You must accept greater responsibility when it comes your way, whether you feel up to the challenge or not.…The services, in a broad sense, don’t promote people, they promote folders full of records and a photograph,” he added, so “do what you can to enhance the contents of that folder.” He urged the graduates to "look for challenges, take them on, and have a great time".
Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust pointed out that Harvard currently has more than 300 students who served in the US military. She quoted former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen saying of the rest of the society's attitude towards people in the military that "I fear they do not know us". Faust cited what Mullen called "a people uninformed about what they are asking the military to endure" and identified that concern as "a significant part of why I was committed to welcoming ROTC back to Harvard". She said that we "must take responsibility for our interconnectedness", and for the burdens people in the military were willing to take, and that helping them in their re-entry into civilian life "is the true way to thank them for their service and the very best way for us to honor" their service.
Ensign Colin Dickinson received a Navy commission, and Midshipman Christian Yoo will commission at a later date. Second Lieutenants Gavin Pascarella and Brian Furey received Marine Corps commissions. Second Lieutenant Courtney Diekema received an Air Force commission.
(click photos for captions and higher resolution versions)
Previous Harvard ROTC Commissioning Ceremonies: 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012