Bomb threats to Harris Hall, home of the R.O.T.C. office, were typical, causing many evacuations. Masked men and women banged on doors to disrupt R.O.T.C. classes until professors dismissed the cadets for the day. Student activists held counter-marching formations on campus, walking alongside the cadets during their drills, cursing them and carrying the black flag of anarchy next to the cadets’ American flag.Through all this, the young cadets were urged to exercise restraint and ignore the protestors. In an effort to calm the escalating tensions, the college banned cadets from wearing or even displaying their uniforms on campus.
Luckily, this regrettable era has passed (although some of these Vietnam-era “activists” now hold prominent academic positions nationwide). As divisive as the Iraq War was for the recent generation, college campuses saw nothing like the juvenile anti-military movements from forty years ago.That said, bridging the civilian-military gap remains a great challenge both for the military and for universities. It’s an important issue, and one that requires the commitment of both the armed forces and our academic institutions.Watching ROTC return to the Ivy League and to storied universities like CUNY is a very welcome (and long overdue) sign of better times ahead.[Vietnam student protest image courtesy of Wikimedia]