I really tuned in to U.S. 1 coverage of Princeton University’s 2017 graduation and reunion activities. Real classics were Class of 1966 50th reunion article and your latest, wide-ranging piece on the Class of 1992’s 25th featuring Ted Cruz and other notables involved with the multi-faceted, “amazing spectacle” since Trump’s election. Your coverage was meaty fare in stark contrast to others say, “The Pampered Princetonian,” which featured a full front page splash on campus life of a 2017 graduate. Really!

“The 50th Reunion Class Revisits Its Princeton Days” was fascinating. I was on campus for nearly two years along with the Class of ’66 while pursuing a MS degree in port and harbor engineering. During this anti-war protest time, I was an active duty Navy commander preparing for deployment to Vietnam assigned to the Military Assistance Command Vietnam Construction Directorate.

The U.S. 1 article mirrors well my recollections overall with two exceptions. Foremost was mischaracterization and scant recall of anti-war student protests and related actions of university leadership. The dedication of the Woodrow Wilson School by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966 is one example.

I arrived early and was at the ceremony in uniform. The revisit’s characterizations of Princeton student anti-war protesters as significantly different from the “unwashed radicals” or even “hippies” elsewhere, I liken to current “fake news.” Enhanced security presence, including Secret Service, kept a raucous protest from penetrating the school’s grounds and ceremony. Likewise, credit the university and local law enforcement with well executed measures precluding violence and destructive behaviors. Disrespect to those in uniform was unmitigated.

As to the university leadership’s and Vietnam-era anti-military actions, one must recall the Navy ROTC was evicted from the Princeton campus and its training facilities removed. After an absence of some 40 years, 2017 graduation festivities included a Princeton University ROTC Joint Commissioning celebrated with great ceremony. Members of our little known Princeton Officers Society who were involved in the return of the NROTC midshipmen to Princeton were in attendance for the first commissioning of a Princeton graduate as a Navy officer in some 40 years.

The splendid ceremony and the historic trappings were recorded in toto though no personal photography was permitted and no press was apparent. Of special note was the participation of President Eisgruber and his brief but eloquent and, in my view, historic remarks on the important roles of Princeton and its military graduates in service to our nation from its founding. He made a special point of his strong support for the Secretary of the Navy’s decision to return the NROTC to Princeton and his pride and pleasure in participating in the Joint Commissioning.

As an active Princetonian in many ways over the years, a career military professional, and staunch conservative, the 2017 Joint Commissioning was and will be remembered as a significant change of course. Sail on!

John Clearwater

Captain CEC USN (ret)

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