In reference to the article titled “ROTC students speak out” (Jan. 27, p. 1), I am appalled by the fact that the members of the ROTC program have to face this “battle to win respect amongst their civilian peers.” As an international student, I find this not only disgraceful; I find it is making a mockery of their sacrifice. Many of these students sacrifice their own freedoms and ambitions to serve in the highly regimented ranks of the military in order to ensure that the freedoms of many are both preserved and protected. Many of these people do so to continue the family traditions of service to the country. I have had the opportunity and the great privilege of meeting many of those in the ROTC program and have found them to be upright citizens with outstanding ideals, great moral courage and truly honorable people.
As a reserve in the Singapore Army who has completed two and a half years of active service, I have a great respect for those who choose to serve their nation as a career and do so at a great cost to their own personal life. I had the opportunity to meet some men from the U.S. Army during my days in the service and have found that they hold similar values and ideals as to those currently in the ROTC program. These people are willing to put their own lives on the line to ensure the American values that you as a nation preach and hold dearly. They take oaths of service, not very different from the one that I once took to defend my nation, its people, the Constitution and, finally, the president. They may have different beliefs, coming from a cross section of the nation, yet they are united for a common cause, for the man on the right and the left.
Having once laid to rest a childhood friend who died in the Navy while on duty, I cannot and will not stand by and allow the sacrifices and services rendered by the fine men and women in the armed forces, whether on active or reserve service, be made a mockery. These people are not necessarily the warmongers, as I have met non-uniformed people who advocate the coming war and “bulldozing of political opponents.” These people in the military are merely people who find themselves inclined to the aspect of military life that breeds discipline, honor and respect. It is true that the last person who ever wants to go to war is a soldier or a warrior, as it is in war that the soldiers and warriors suffer.
The role of the military after September 11 has indeed changed. It is now more focused on protecting American interests from low-intensity attacks, attacks in which you don’t know who your enemy is. Take, for example, the Marine in charge of guarding the American Embassy in the Middle East, Africa or even Indonesia. His job has changed and he has become part of the target.
Thus, I believe the men and women in the ROTC program should be respected and not dismissed as warmongers or stereotyped as killing machines. These people are exceptional, and I for one will one day be proud to serve with them side by side should such a day come. I implore the University community to join me in respecting them, if not applauding them.
-The writer, a freshman majoring in international affairs, is a reserve in the Singapore Armed Forces.
This article appeared in the February 18, 2003 issue of the Hatchet.