Commencement weekend is a noteworthy benchmark for graduating seniors. For students involved in ROTC, it represents a new path in life as we begin our careers as Army officers.
This morning, in a short ceremony in Gaston Hall, I, along with the nine other graduating seniors in Army ROTC, will be sworn in as newly commissioned second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.
While this weekend marks the end of our time at Georgetown, this is just the beginning of Army careers that will take us around the world, test our ability to lead in stressful circumstances and grant us the amazing opportunity to serve our country.
You might have seen us on campus in action during your time on campus: presenting the flag at basketball games, doing pushups at Yates or running laps at Relay for Life. We are in your classes, your clubs and often across the bar from you at The Tombs. We have embraced our four years at Georgetown knowing that at the end of the tunnel, we will be leaving the Georgetown family to join the ranks of the Army.
ROTC has given us invaluable opportunities to develop and succeed at Georgetown. For one, it has provided scholarships without which many of us would have not been able to afford Georgetown. It is a privilege and an honor to call the Hilltop our home, and ROTC has made our education possible.
Through ROTC, we have found mentors and teachers who have guided and motivated us along the way to becoming officers. As a freshman I was welcomed and harbored by peer mentors who showed me the ropes and were not afraid to give me tough love when I needed it. They have challenged me physically, intellectually and morally while motivating me to aspire to be a better person.
ROTC has prompted us to be globally minded and better understand the Army’s role internationally. The Army has sent my peers and me to train with militaries around the world, including Senegal, the Philippines, Ghana, Paraguay, Spain and Tanzania, to name a few places.
I myself spent a summer at the Royal Thai Military Academy living and working with Thai Army cadets, and it was one of the most formative experiences I have had as a student and soldier. I gained amazing friendships with both my fellow Americans and the young men I trained with in Thailand that have endured over the years. I learned firsthand about the Thai military and society working to foster positive perceptions between our two countries that will hopefully persist over time.
ROTC has forced us to grapple with the ethical, moral and legal questions surrounding war and violence to prepare us to make just decisions in dire circumstances. We do not take lightly the ambiguity and confusion of war. We have not experienced war’s dark narrative personally but have learned from the experiences of those who have seen it firsthand — willful combatants and innocent victims alike. We know that by signing the dotted line and taking the oath, we now play a small role in that narrative.
The 10 of us graduating and commissioning this weekend have trained in ROTC for four years, but overall, we have had it easy in comparison. We have not been to war. We have not been separated from our families for extended periods of time. We have not endured the devastating impact that partaking in conflict can have on the individual.
We are green and untested, but nevertheless we are thankful for the opportunity to serve and eager to contribute to the Army and our country.
We enter an Army with a culture that has changed from previous generations. This is an Army that has progressed with changes in American society and culture and reflects the attitudes and perceptions of our nation.
As Army officers, it will be our responsibility to lead soldiers in this constantly developing institution as we prepare to tackle global security challenges in the coming years.
Jack Moore is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.
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