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I read with interest the suggestion by Robert Wheelersburg '88 PhD that, thanks to its decision to throw out the naval unit more than three decades ago, the University does not deserve to fly the U.S. flag on its historic flagpole ("Flying the Flag," Mail Room, July/August).

Brown's refusal to reinstate military ROTC programs is hypocrisy unworthy of such a fine institution. Brown has Patriots Court, named in memory of those who died while serving in past wars, and yet there is not a single space on campus allotted for today's armed forces. No matter what your views are, the military is essential to our country's well being. It is undignified for the University to accept federal tax dollars without allowing this vital entity to recruit its future leaders. I ask President Ruth Simmons to revisit this issue and bring it forward for discussion. To Robert Wheelersburg, I say that while I empathize with your frustration, the flag on that yachting mast should not be taken down. It must remain flying as a tribute to Brown's military past.

Martin T. Velazquez '94
Carrollton, Tex.
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Comments (3)
11/27/08
 
Dear Martin- 
Your letter hit the nail on the head. 
 
I, too, sent a letter to the BAM, but it was not printed (probably too scathing for their liberal taste). 
 
I am disappointed that my ROTC classmates have not replied to the question of reinstating ROTC on the Brown campus or flying the flagon the historic flagpole.  
 
I'll e-mail you a copy of my letter. 
Again, thank you very much for your letter to the BAM. 
 
George Tidd
 
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12/01/08
 
George, 
 
Thank you for your sentiment. Unfortunately, my letter was not printed entirely. I will post it here. I've been in the military for 10 years. There is an unfortunate perception among conservatives that if you are a liberal that means you are anti-military or soft on national defense. Brown's policy perpetuates this myth. There needs to be a debate, even if many disagree. Banning ROTC makes as much sense as keeping the guns away from Brown's Police Department (I'm glad that the latter has changed). 
 
My Letter: 
 
I read with interest "Flying the Flag," (Mail Room, July/August 2008), in which Dr. Wheelersburg criticized Brown University for throwing out the naval unit over three decades ago while retaining its symbolic flagpole. Browns refusal to reinstate military ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs is hypocrisy unworthy of such a fine institution. It is ironic that the university that once hosted George Washingtons troops gives zero credit hours for military leadership courses. Brown has Patriots Court, named in memory of those who died while serving in past wars, and yet there is not a single space on campus allotted for todays armed forces. The only option available for those students who want to serve is the Patriots Battalion Army ROTC at Providence College. Yes, Brown gives its students the freedom to choose their curriculum, but those who want a military education must take the bus across town. It is understandable that many in the Brown community find the military objectionable its flawed policy towards homosexuals, the ongoing war in Iraq, and the simple fact that its mission involves killing. Even if circumstances change, as they have in the past 30 years, there will always be those who oppose the U.S. military. On this basis, are we to exclude the armed forces indefinitely? 
 
No matter what your views are, the military is essential to our countrys well-being. It is undignified for the University to accept federal tax dollars without allowing this vital entity to recruit its future leaders. Let's also not lose sight of the fact that politicians are the ones who dictate policy and wage wars from an arm chair. It is the men and women in uniform who obey orders and do the fighting and the dying - just look at the names of the Brown alumni on Soldiers Arch. To blame it all on the troops is a convenient simplification of a complex subject. 
 
Browns rejection of ROTC undermines Francis Waylands vision for a student to "study what he chose, all that he chose, and nothing but what he chose." More bothersome than school policy is the apparent apathy of the community such a lack of sentiment truly dishonors Browns veterans and war dead. I ask President Ruth Simmons to revisit this issue and bring it forward for discussion. To Dr. Wheelersburg I say that while I empathize with your frustration, the flag on that yachting mast should not be taken down. Rather, it must remain flying as a tribute to Browns military past and hope for redemption in the future.  
 
Martin T. Velazquez 94 
Carrollton, Texas 
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12/01/08
 
Letter sent to the Editor of BAM 
 
Dear Editor, 
 
Thank you for publishing my letter "Glorifying Old Glory," regarding the non-presence of ROTC on campus. While I understand your right and need to edit for "style, clarity, and length," I take some issue with how my letter was edited. My key argument for allowing ROTC on campus is that it runs contrary to Brown's "open curriculum" - the guiding principle of the university - and hence the hipocrisy in banning ROTC. The published version of my letter lacks this important perspective. In comparison, more space was alloted to the community garden on page 6. I'm a little surprised that other letters supporting this view have not been published. Given that the United States is embroiled in two wars and our military is dangerously streched to the breaking point, national defense (and hence ROTC) is an important topic to be discussed, whether you are a Democrat, Republican, liberal or conservative. Thank you once again. 
 
Sincerely, 
 
 
Martin T. Velazquez
 
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