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Letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Holy Cross Magazine or the College. Letters should not exceed 300 words. Due to constraints of space, we will print letters that are representative of the response generated by any given feature in the magazine. Holy Cross Magazine reserves the right to edit all letters for length and clarity.


Cover Spring 2003 “Road Signs”
Having just returned from a very successful 60th reunion of the Class of 1943, I am moved to express my appreciation for your publication of the article by John Wiater ’75. In these days of the failures of the USA to pay slight attention to the United Nations or its manifold organizations, it was indeed satisfying to read John’s fervent defense of the multitudinous UN programs in support of peace, reconciliation, nation-building, the defense of human rights, humanitarian assistance and economic development—none of which receive media attention in this uncaring country.

As a former international civil servant in the United Nations Secretariat, I can testify to the remarkable achievements by various international organizations throughout the developing and the developed worlds. John’s career in Catholic Relief Services and now in an important peacekeeping U.N. mission in Kosovo are a recital of his selfless work in Africa and in Latin America for which he is to be congratulated. As a fellow graduate of Holy Cross, I am proud of him and wish him continued public service in the international sphere.

Paul D. McCusker ’43
Durham, N.C.


“The ROTC Question”
As a 1994 graduate of Holy Cross I was shocked to read that “The Holy Cross Military-Free Network” is attempting to eliminate the ROTC program from campus. At the outset, I have to admit that I was not ROTC at Holy Cross, but I certainly appreciated and respected each and every student that participated in the program. The idea that ROTC is being equated with teaching Holy Cross students to be war-mongering is quite simply preposterous. These young people are not just receiving a scholarship for college, but are taking advantage of a remarkable opportunity to serve our country. My father, James A. Treanor III ’60 recalls fondly his ROTC experience at Holy Cross and even more so his subsequent service in the Navy. He remained in the reserves for years and was retired with the rank of Commander.

Living in Washington, D.C., I have come to appreciate more and more the role of our armed services in defending our freedom. As a staffer on Capitol Hill on 9/11, one of the most vivid memories I have of that day is hearing a sonic boom and watching military jets scramble above the Capitol just seconds after members of Congress and staff were evacuated from our office buildings. We in Washington were confronted with a gaping hole in the side of the Pentagon and the sad story of the many lives lost in New York and Pennsylvania. I often wonder what would have happened to my friends and colleagues as well as to our national psyche if that last plane was able to reach its intended target, the U.S. Capitol. Later that fall, when my office building (the Senate Hart Building) was evacuated for anthrax contamination it was the Army Reserves who filled in for the, by that time, overworked Capitol Police force and made us all feel safe again.

Even though I have left the Senate, my day is regularly spent on the Capitol campus. It often surprises visitors to D.C. when they see the trenches, walls and barricades that now dominate the landscape on Capitol Hill. Visitors and staff alike are no longer even allowed to climb the stairs to the West Font of the Capitol to enjoy the unparalleled view down the Mall to the Lincoln Memorial. These are clear signs that we are living in dangerous times, and I challenge anyone who took the time to read the issue of Holy Cross Magazine that paid tribute to the alumni victims of 9/11 to tell the Holy Cross community that ROTC has no place on Mount Saint James.

I am sure that Mr. Ksen believes that he is doing the right thing, but I invite him to come to D.C. and walk by the gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery sometime. I would also encourage him to read some tributes to ordinary Americans who have done extraordinary things in service of this country —the book Citizen Soldier comes to mind. ROTC participants are not learning to wage war, they are being educated in one of many means to defend and, as in Iraq, spread the freedom we enjoy. That, to most Americans and Holy Cross alumni, is a very moral cause.

Elizabeth Treanor ’94
Washington, D.C.


As an alumnus of both Holy Cross and its ROTC program, I found compelling debate in the Spring 2003 issue of the magazine. This argument was something of “déjà vu all over again” since this also raged during my years at the College (1976-80). I distinctly remember Maj. Patrick Townsend (of the NROTC unit) engaging Scott C. Duffy ’80 (a conscientious objector), in a lengthy, impromptu debate of “Just War” theory outside the mailboxes in the Hogan lobby. It drew a crowd of 30 or so interested onlookers.

This demonstrates that Holy Cross is a wonderful place to shape future leaders, military and otherwise. It is a school that strives to form students who are moral, compassionate, grounded in an understanding of history, philosophy, literature, and theology, and knowledgeable in the sciences and mathematics.

As alumni, they leave the College not knowing what to think but how to think and carry with them a strong mandate to serve others. Aren’t these the very best qualities that America could hope for in its Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force officers?

Losing this pool of officer candidates would not only be a great loss to Holy Cross but to our nation as a whole.

Andrew Engelke ’80 (former Captain, USMC)
Grapevine, Texas


The issue of Holy Cross Magazine devoted to “War & Peace” represents somewhat of an oversimplification. The interviewees/writers are either military or war objectors. Even if one accepts the “War & Peace” designator, the two are not always separable. It is like my arrival on a C-47 at a small base in the Mekong Delta in 1969 where I thought, “What am I doing here?” The conflict and experiences between war and peace are waged, more often than not, in an individual’s human heart while she or he is experiencing war.

Bill McCarron ’64
Commerce, Texas


“Capt. Terence Labrecque”
Thank you to Capt. Terence Labrecque for his thoughtful, balanced interview entitled “Officer, Gentleman and Scholar” in the Spring 2003 Holy Cross Magazine. I personally benefited from ROTC while attending Holy Cross (I enrolled in Army ROTC at WPI). Not only was I able to afford college, but I also gained the poise, self-confidence and discipline that I needed. However, I have never been pro-war—If we could achieve a perfect world where no one felt the need to use force to resolve conflicts, I would be more than willing to give up my “day job”!

Maj. Jill Catalano Feig, M.D.,
M.P.H. ’89
U.S. Air Force, Medical Corps
Brooks City-Base, Texas


“Pax Christi & Just War”
Wonderful series of discussions on war and peace in the spring issue. In particular, George Grattan’s “Open Letter” to the Pax Christi members is worthy of careful reading by all of us. To be truly non-violent with Jesus constitutes one of the biggest challenges I face as a Christian.

One quote from Gen. Trainor gave me pause for reflection: “Philosophically, the precept is that war is intrinsically evil and can only be pursued in response to a greater evil when other remedies are found wanting.” If war is intrinsically evil, it can never be pursued by a Christian; apart from Machiavelli, no intrinsically evil means can be justified, no matter the end.

And what is a “greater evil” than an object that is “intrinsically evil”? My/our survival? But as Christians, personal or national survival is not a justifiable reason for pursuing any evil. Why? Because our survival is guaranteed: it is called our “resurrection.” This is the distinguishing element of Christian ethics vs. secular ethics. No question for the secular ethician, my survival (personal, economic, social, political) can justify the use of violence and the violation of his/her ethical principles. Not so the Christian! That is why we are called to imitate Jesus who was obedient, even unto death, even to the death of the cross. The very challenging message admired by Mohandas Gandhi—but which he did not see being lived by the Christians of his day.

And again, what “other remedies are found wanting”? Wanting in what way? According to what standards? Again, if the remedy we seek is survival and victory over a threatening enemy, we are back to the challenge of Jesus Who sweated out His decision in the Garden—a decision which baffled His followers (Peter swinging his sword) as well as Pilate to whom Jesus said: “If My kingdom were of this world (read ‘secular’), My Father would have given Me an army; as it is My kingdom is not of this world.” And so He suffered and died for having spoken the truth of His mission from the Father. The truth of utter non-violence!

Thanks again for your stimulating series. I am passing it on to my own Pax Christi group for their prayerful reflection.

Jim Powers ’53
Pax Christi Atlanta
Atlanta, Ga.


The “War and Peace” issue of the Magazine greeted me upon my return from the campus on the occasion of my 40th reunion. It resonated with my sense that this College is a very special place with its values based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

In this light, I was particularly moved by the contrast between two articles—the remarkable essay by Patrick Tigue ’04, on why he is a conscientious objector and the interview with Marine Gen. Trainor ’51 on the just war theory. Reflecting on these articles in the light of Christ’s most compelling teaching, the Sermon on the Mount—“blessed are the poor in spirit ... the peacemakers ... the meek ... those who mourn, are persecuted ...”—I conclude that He would have been repelled by the “logic” of Gen. Trainor and deeply moved by the “foolishness” of Mr. Tigue.

I do not judge Gen. Trainor. Obviously, he is a thoughtful, competent professional guided by many of the principles taught to us at the College back in the ’50s and ’60s. Just as clearly, and unfortunately, he represents a larger percentage of Americans than Mr. Tigue. But the fact is that his reasoning would be repellent to the Preacher of the Beatitudes.

How can we ever consider the killing of innocent non-combatants as even discussable in the context of “national security” when our Savior speaks as He did on the Mount, and dies struggling against the powers and principalities and on the side of the widows and the orphans? If the just war theory can justify the fire bombing of Dresden, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, or the invasion of Iraq, then the just war theory doesn’t belong in Jesus’ Church.

Thank you for your commitment to open discussion of these compelling issues. I am gratified that you gave space to both of these perspectives, as well as the other fine articles in this issue. Keep up the good work.

Jerry King ’63
Clayton, Mo.


“The Back Cover”
On the back page of the recent issue of Holy Cross Magazine (37:2) was a photo of anti-war signs hanging from Dinand Library.

Although I may not agree with the opinion of the students who hung these signs, I spent 34 years as a career officer in the Navy ensuring that these individuals have the right to freely express their opinions. However, I strongly object to the manner in which the Holy Cross administration has allowed these students to express their opinions by defacing Dinand Library. Holy Cross Magazine has further added to the legitimacy of these actions by publishing the names of the students involved.

If a group of Holy Cross students elected to express its opinion which might be contrary to the philosophy of the Holy Cross’ administration, such as “pro choice,” would these students be allowed to hang banners from Dinand Library and receive the same coverage in Holy Cross Magazine? I don’t think so!

Robert E. Cassidy ’57
Scituate, Mass.

Editors’ Note: The editors of HCM chose to run the banner photo on the rear cover of our spring issue as an illustration of the debate taking place on campus during the war in Iraq. The banner in question was displayed without the knowledge or approval of the College administration. The banner was removed by Public Safety officers soon after it was displayed from the roof of Dinand Library—as would be any banner, regardless of content—as a matter of standard college protocol. The names of the students who created the banner and displayed it were published with their permission and at their request.


“The Desert Padre”
In the fall 2000 issue of Holy Cross Magazine, an article appeared that I had written about Rev. John J. Crowley ’15, the “Desert Padre.” Since that story was published, there has been an interesting development—the creation of a large mural in honor of Fr. Crowley painted on the side of one of the major shopping venues in Bishop, Calif.—one of the communities that he served. I have enclosed a photograph of the mural. It continues to amaze me that the residents of the Eastern Sierra revere the man to this day, although he has been gone for over a half-century.

The painter of the mural, John Knowlton, was in residence in Bishop for a little over two months as he worked on the project. I guess you might say this is “the rest of the story.” I thought this turn of events might be interesting to the readers of Holy Cross Magazine.

Bill Webster ’48
Bakersfield, Calif.


“Berrigan & Thomas II”
I am writing regarding a letter to the editor entitled “Berrigan and Thomas” in the spring 2003 issue of Holy Cross Magazine. I am dumbfounded by the possibility that someone read this letter and found in it some insight that helped its readers to reflect upon, or better understand, the articles about Phil Berrigan and Clarence Thomas in a previous issue. I can only conclude that the printing of the letter reflects the political biases of the editors themselves. The author, Gordon Cronin ’55, does little more than insult Justice Thomas with no justification to back his claims that Thomas is “quite simply a disgrace as well as a psychiatrist’s challenge.” I would appreciate it if the magazine would at least require some substantive evidence before printing a letter that viciously attacks an alumnus, or anyone else for that matter. This is not the Democratic National Committee’s newsletter, it is the Holy Cross Magazine. Let’s play fair.

Greg Weston ’05
New York, N.Y.


I suppose it is a kind of overkill to write letters to the editor objecting to other letters to the editor, but here goes: In a Letter to the Editor in the spring 2003 issue, captioned “Berrigan and Thomas,” Gordon A. Cronin ’55, suggests that Supreme Court Justice Thomas considers “that all victims are guilty,” and that Justice Thomas is “a disgrace” and “a psychiatrist’s challenge.”

Not by a long shot!

My take on Justice Thomas is that he simply feels that not all the guilty (or chronically irresponsible) are automatically victims of anything but their own bad behaviors. If there is a disgrace in the judiciary, involving reference to psychiatry, it is not in the life of Clarence Thomas, nor in his judicial philosophy. Rather, it is the condescending denial or devaluing of any attribution of free will, character, merit or courage in judging individuals who come before the courts.

Instead of the individual accountability for one’s own behavior and achievement, as exemplified by Justice Thomas himself, we see the failings of criminals and feckless litigants to abide by the law or perform in school or on the job at their utmost, explained away, time and again, by some in the helping professions whose specialty is apparently excuse-making for classes of people they think irredeemably incapable.

The disgrace is that too many (but certainly not all) of those in the helping professions, socio-political sciences, and the judiciary not-so-subtly believe somehow “those people” are beneath having a real free will, character, merit or personal courage. This attitude, as much as anything else, serves to undermine popular attribution of any successes of effort, courage and character among individual members of the officially benighted classes whom the condescending would suggest weren’t capable of success without their noblesse oblige, and special allowances, for which they, the policy wonks, arguably deserve more credit than the achieving individuals.

I do agree with fellow alumnus Cronin in two respects, however. Justice Thomas is certainly not a successor on the High Court in the same spirit as Justice Thurgood Marshall. Justice Marshall knew the law, then determined the race of a man, then talked about the culpability of the law in the failure of that race, and by extension and apparently automatically, the failure of that particular man.

Justice Thomas knows the law, looks at that particular man’s record, and tells you about the culpability of that man for his own failure before the law, and before the whole of the law-abiding, honestly striving human race.

And yes, Cronin is right—Holy Cross Magazine needs to keep on handling intellectual issues, excellently and often.

Tony Stankus ’73
Worcester, Mass.


St. Ignatius & ROTC
First, my congratulations on the excellent job you did putting together “War & Peace” in the spring issue. I had several thoughts I wanted to pass along.

I graduated from Holy Cross in 1959 and entered the Navy through the NROTC program. I spent two years on active duty and many more years in the active reserve, mostly in intelligence and war game related work. I returned to active duty in 1986 as a Captain and served as the Deputy Director of the Crisis Coordination Center in the Office of the Secretary of Defense from 1986-89.

I am very proud of Holy Cross’ long tradition of supporting the military programs, both Navy and Air Force. During the Vietnam War, the Ivy League dropped their NROTC programs but Holy Cross did not. I know many officers who deeply resented the decision of the Ivy League as “elitist,” transferring the burden of military service to the less privileged so to speak. I share that view.

Your magazine did a wonderful job with the interview of LGEN. Trainor, a Holy Cross graduate, on the issue of defining the criteria for a just war. The fact that Holy Cross was even discussing that issue in a public forum says a great deal about the value of having the NROTC program, and producing military leaders of the moral caliber and intellect of Gen. Trainor.

Another thought relates to St. Ignatius himself and his early career as a soldier. He modeled the Jesuits on a military paradigm, and to my knowledge, accepted the concept of military service in pursuit of just causes. We live in an imperfect world and the use of military force can be justified in certain circumstances. While I have serious doubts about the justification of our involvement in Iraq based on the just war criteria, I certainly don’t think that leads to the conclusion that Holy Cross should abandon the NROTC as incompatible with the values of the school. I also salute the leaders of the NROTC staff for their initiative in bringing speakers on the just war theory as part of the NROTC curriculum. Where else but Holy Cross?

You have done a great service in raising the “War & Peace” issue. My vote would be in strong support of retaining the NROTC program now and in the future.

John Paul Royston ’59
Washington, D.C.

 

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