Bacevich and Boston University

One angle I couldn’t fully explore in my column on the funeral of Andrew Bacevich on Tuesday or my prior post involved Boston University ROTC.
In 1993, I was at B.U. on graduation day; my sister was receiving her degree. My father, Gerald Gitell, a graduate of Boston University’s School of Communications, like Bacevich, and a participant in the ROTC program, disappeared for a while. When we met up with him, we learned he had paid a visit to BU’s ROTC headquarters. He came back with a document I wanted to mention in my column but couldn’t find until today. It was a list of ROTC members at BU over time.

Back in my father’s class, 1963, there were 44 Boston University ROTC graduates. Five years later, during the height of Vietnam, there was one, Richard Lowery. After a spike of 8 graduates in 1969, ROTC had one graduate at best (some years, such as 1970 and 1971 had none at all). The numbers pick up again in the late 1980s and early 1990s. With the strain the military is currently under, it’s important to remember how low the stature of the Army had fallen after Vietnam — a fact reflected in these ROTC numbers.

I wrote in my column that BU is not known for its military heritage, but it has more than one would think. When I attended a publicity screening of the Vietnam film We Were Soldiers, it was filled with members of BU’s program (maybe even Andy Bacevich). I stumbled into a lecture on Comm. Ave featuring journalist Joseph Galloway, who wrote of the battle the movie was based upon, sponsored by BU ROTC.

In this world, you don’t necessarily know where courage is going to come from. We expect it to emanate out of Annapolis and West Point. But it’s present up and along the windy urban campus on the Charles as well.

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