Bicentennial Updates – Summer 2016

BONUS: Read the article, “Captain Alden Partridge and the Origins of ROTC: A Reappraisal,” by Gary T. Lord, Dana Professor of History. The story originally appeared in the Norwich University Centennial Symposium program.

There were so many stars decorating the shoulders of the more than 12 general and flag officers gracing the Norwich campus on April 21 and 22, you would have thought you were in a planetarium. But those weren’t the only stars that shone brightly throughout the two-day ROTC Centennial Symposium, “Preparing the Next Generation Leaders in a Complex World.”

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From Thursday’s proclamation reading at the Vermont State House by Cadet Colonel Alex Breindel ’16, to the provocative questions posed by ROTC cadets at Friday’s all-star panel discussion on the future of ROTC, to the students who donned their running shoes for Saturday’s worldwide synchronized JROTC 5k fun run, Norwich student participation was front and center in the biggest and most exciting event of Norwich’s bicentennial commemoration thus far.

After being transported to campus via Black Hawk helicopter, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley is greeted by his friend, mentor, and predecessor Gordon R. Sullivan ’59. (Mark Collier photo.)

After being transported to campus via Black Hawk helicopter, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley is greeted by his friend, mentor, and predecessor Gordon R. Sullivan ’59. (Mark Collier photo.)

One highlight for many was Thursday night’s Todd Lecture by 39th U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley, who opened his talk with a brief history lesson on Norwich’s central role in the defense of our nation before letting the future officers in the audience know what kind of world they would be fighting in. “You are walking into a global situation that, in some ways, is as equally turbulent, equally violent, in fact, far more complex, than that which this school was born into 200 years ago,” Milley said.

He went on to emphasize the importance of good leadership with regard to readiness. “If you look at readiness … at combat power, the most important element of that is not technology. It’s not the guns, the planes, and the ships. It’s not the weapons. It’s not the computers. It’s the people, and most importantly, it’s the leaders. And that’s what Norwich does.”

Milley infused his talk with inspirational examples of Norwich-educated leaders—Brig. Gen. Edmund Rice, Class of 1860, Brig. Gen. Edward Brooks, Class of 1916, and Maj. Gen. Ernest Harmon, Class of 1916—emphasizing their qualities of competence, courage, and innovation so critical to success. “There is no doubt in my mind that the training you’ve received here, the cohesion, the competence, and the character-building, that you have earned and learned here at Norwich, is going to stand you well in the face of arguably some difficult times ahead.”

Counterclockwise from upper left: United States Army Cadet Commander Maj. Gen. Peggy C. Combs talks about the 100-year legacy of ROTC before the reading of the governor’s proclamation at the Vermont State House. (Mark Collier photo.)

United States Army Cadet Commander Maj. Gen. Peggy C. Combs talks about the 100-year legacy of ROTC before the reading of the governor’s proclamation at the Vermont State House. (Mark Collier photo.)

Raised by a Navy mother and Marine father who were part of the Greatest Generation, Milley spoke of the legacy of recent Norwich graduates, 2,514 of whom have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The generation that [has] fought in the last 15 years—your generation, the millennial generation—you are America’s second Greatest Generation,” he said.

In closing, Milley reminded his young audience to keep foremost in their minds the American ideals they will be fighting for. “Throughout our history, our strength—the strength of our nation—has come from our values, our ethos, the diversity of our people, and our Army has fought tyranny, and liberated the oppressed around the word. … All throughout the world, American [soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines] have been the vanguard of American values, which is the respect for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and equality, no matter who you are.”

A video archive of Gen. Mark Milley’s Todd Lecture, the panel discussion “Preparing for the Next Century of ROTC,” the closing keynote by Army Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, and classroom discussions featuring Army Maj. Gen. Peggy C. Combs (“The Psychology of Leadership”), Air Force Brig. Gen. Paul H. Guemmer (“Air Force Development”), and Army Gen. David G. Perkins (“Ethics and Leadership”) is available here.

Runners take off at the start of the Junior ROTC worldwide synchronized 5k fun run on Saturday. (Mark Collier photo.)

Runners take off at the start of the Junior ROTC worldwide synchronized 5k fun run on Saturday. (Mark Collier photo.)

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