The United States military is an incredibly important aspect of our society as a country, as well as for much of the world. But sometimes it doesn’t seem like that at Collegiate. While the US is involved in many conflicts around the world, we are not in a major war, such as World War II. Citizens of the US during WWII had many direct changes to their lives. There was rationing of food and supplies, air raid drills, job changes to produce goods for war, and much more. But now, and since then, there has been nothing that dramatic. The general public is currently not affected much, if at all, by the ongoing conflicts the US is involved in. And because of not being involved, the average citizen sometimes knows very little about recent conflicts. But wouldn’t you like to know more about the people who lay down their lives to protect you and your family? The people who have sacrificed years of their life and so much more to protect this country, as well as many others? Sure, many of us have written letters or sent care packages to service men and women overseas. But do you know why they are there, or even where “there” is? Collegiate, while incredibly educated about the world through events such as IELC, is lacking information about something so important to our country. When I asked some of my friends how many branches there were in the military, their answers surprised me. The vast majority of them replied with uncertain threes or fours. And even the people who knew the correct number couldn’t name them. The answer—Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard—was said by no one. All of these people, however could solve complex math equations and determine the theme of Beowulf. The Collegiate community, specifically the students, are lacking knowledge about the military because of inadequate education and different world views.
Collegiate’s lack of an educational programing about the military, while unsurprising, is not ideal in any way. Many public schools have some form of Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), whether is be Army, Navy, Marine Corps, or Air Force. JROTC educates students about the military as well as providing them with the opportunity to experience a little of it. Cadets go through physical training, uniform inspections, leadership exercises, and much more to build meaningful relationships, like those of the military, that transcend typical high school boundaries. JROTC teaches respect, trust, self-worth, and leadership. Unfortunately, Collegiate does not offer JROTC. I think one of the main reasons why is lack of interest. Collegiate does an excellent job of educating its students to be curious, respectful, well-educated people. But many of these people grow up expecting to get into a good college, get a high-paying and fancy job where they don’t have to get their feet wet, start a family, and live happily ever. But what if students want to get their feet wet? Better yet, what if they want to dive in head first? They don’t have the opportunity to. Apart from JROTC, Collegiate does have some courses which discuss war and the military. Most history classes discuss past wars, and Upper School English teacher Vlastik Svab is once again offering the Literature of Conflict English elective this summer. However, while these classes talk about war in general, I think that Collegiate could offer an elective class about the US military. I believe this would be a very interesting class and would garner plenty of interest. If a whole class is too much to ask, however, Collegiate could have a speaker talk in assembly or to individual classes once or twice a year. Our Veterans Day speaker, Collegiate parent Lieutenant Colonel Klein, had a message of “If not you, than who” that was very powerful and provided insight into the values of the military.
Most Collegiate students grow up and live in a very different world than many people. We are privileged, well-educated, and for the most part destined for a comfortable life after college. Through events such as IELC, Collegiate students are highly educated on international affairs. We are, however, surprisingly less educated and aware about our own country. With almost every senior getting into college, Collegiate is continually producing young people who will help the world. There are numerous opportunities for individuals to support the United States through their careers, such as lawyers procuring justice, doctors helping the sick, engineers fixing and inventing, and many more. While all these jobs are obviously offered to anyone, they’re also offered by the military. ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) scholarships are offered by the military for people who are willing to commit to being an officer after graduating college. There are basic requirements and an application to apply. The scholarship pays for students to attend any college with an ROTC program and study almost anything they want. This can be very useful to students who are unable to pay for the education they want and can also add purpose to a job. While this is a great opportunity, like in WWII, all jobs are important to running a country. So while it would be great for more Collegiate students to be involved in the military, simply doing their civic duty and getting an education to support our country is also a contribution.
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