Harvard’s Honor

This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.

The New York Sun

Congratulations are in order for Harvard University, which announced this week the resumption of naval reserve officer training at the nation’s premier institution of higher learning. To those of us who love Harvard and all that it stands for it is a great moment. It has been a long time in coming since the Vietnam War when reserve officer training was ended. The announcement was made this week that the welcome would be extended to the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps following the decision by Congress to repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law. President Faust has spoken eloquently as Harvard prepared for this decision, and has indicated that the welcome will eventually be extended to the other branches of American military as well.

At Harvard, as at other campuses, the rebuff to reserve officer training started over Vietnam. But after the war ended in America’s defeat, the welcome mat was not laid out and, eventually, a new excuse was cited, the legislation that made it impossible for those practicing same-gender sexual relations to serve in uniform. How hypocritical it always seemed to us that the legislators who enacted and the president who signed that legislation could be welcomed at our most distinguished campuses, while the military services who obeyed the law were essentially blackballed. The refusal to train officers for Vietnam was worse than hypocritical, however; it was dishonorable. And it has troubled many Harvard men and women for two generations.

Yet it is well to remember that Harvard men did give their lives on the field of battle during Vietnam. They are George William Casey, class of 1945; Richard Rich, 1947; Pieter Ronald van Thiel, 1954; Joseph Bion Philipson, Jr., 1959; William Newcomer Feaster, 1960; Robert Roy Little, 1960; Lewis Metcalfe Walling, Jr., 1960; James Gable Dunton, 1962; William Emerson, 1964; Wilson Fitzgerald Halley, 1965; Joseph Thomas McKeon, Jr., 1965; Edward William Argy, 1966; Langdon Gates Burwell, 1966; Peter Wyeth Johnson, 1966; John Bernard Martin, II, 1967; Charles Edward Ryberg, 1967; Michael Nelson Loitz, 1968; Christopher Warren Morgens, 1968; Carl Spaulding Thorne-Thomsen, 1968; Nelson Ramon Morales, 1970; Robert Charles Murray, 1970; Melvin Lederman, 1956.

Their names appear on the south Wall of Memorial Church in the center of Harvard Yard. It’s not only Vietnam where Harvard Men have fallen in battle. Memorial Church’s full list of Harvard War Dead going back to the Great War attests to the patriotism that has seethed in the Yard. President Faust noted, in one of her remarks on this head, that Harvard men have won on the field of battle more Medals of Honor than those of any institution of higher learning save the service academies. We, for one, have never seen a difference between the high ground that America held in its earlier wars and the nobility of its expedition in Vietnam, and Harvard now sends an important signal to the rest of higher education that it is time to focus on training the best possible reserve officers corps in the years ahead.

The New York Sun

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