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Letters to the Editor
“When the Navy Docked on the Hill”
In the article “When the Navy Docked on the Hill,” (fall 2007), I was disappointed that you did not mention that a ROTC unit existed at Holy Cross beginning in September 1941. There were about 40 or so members with uniforms, drills, shots and confusion. We were not actually enlisted men—just volunteers. Drills were behind Fenwick with rifles and a lot of kibitzing from the dorm. It got more exciting after Pearl Harbor. I left in July and joined the V-5 program (Naval Aviation); went to the Pacific in 1944. Joined the Regulars, stayed on and retired in 1963. It was a great 21 years in Carrier Aviation. Keep up the good work.
Jack DiPretoro ’45
It was interesting to read about astronomy at Holy Cross. However, the story might have noted that many of us—willing or not—were introduced to the mysteries of the night skies and celestial navigation by the College’s Naval ROTC unit. How’s that doing? Even though the Navy relies primarily on satellites for navigation these days, it’s a piece of common ground I’d hope the Navy and the Jesuits would nurture.
Also, while the article mentions that a Jesuit heads the Vatican’s observatory headquartered in Italy, the Vatican’s principal research observatory is based in Arizona, where the skies are darker and better for astronomy than those around Rome. The Vatican’s Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT) in Arizona was the prototype for the mirror making techniques used to construct the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT - currently the world’s largest optical telescope) and the even larger Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT - in early stages of construction). Unfortunately, though the Jesuits in Arizona have played a crucial role in keeping American telescope building viable, Notre Dame is the only Catholic institution participating in the LBT and GMT projects. Hopefully, the Jesuits will find a way to change that.
Jim McManus ’70
The Times wants me to read Denis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke. In their Sunday Review of Books, they describe Tree as remarkable, soulful, tremendous: an Epic. I will probably read it, and surely be disappointed.
The summer ’07 edition of Holy Cross Magazine suggested for the beach, the boat, the backpack, Daniel Woodrell’s Winter’s Bone. After the first few sequences of the novel, I put the book down and asked myself, “What in blazing saddles is goin’ on here?” Unexpected drama; unexpected characterizations, unexpected topography. Surely, all this was a clever diversion and, soon, I and my new book would revert to the mean.
Not here. The Times would have been dead-on accurate ... had they been reviewing Winter’s Bone. Thank you, HCM, for the recommendation.
Pete Stubben ’69
Rockaway Park, N.Y.
In the article, “Far-Flung Friends” (fall ’07), the expulsion of the Jesuits from Iraq was referred to as result-ing from the “Gaddafi coup.” The expulsion, of course, was the result of the Baathist coup. Rev. Joseph MacDonnell, S.J., author of Jesuits by the Tigris: Men for Others in Baghdad (1994), writing in America magazine in 2003, recounts the events: “In 1968, following a bloody coup d’état in August by the Baath Socialist Party, both schools were nationalized, and all 61 Jesuits were expelled. On Nov. 25 the 28 Al Hikma Jesuits were given five days to leave the country. Baghdad College was nationalized the following August with no reason given and no compensation offered. The Baath Socialist government, whose ideology prohibited private education, confiscated the Jesuits’ property of 195 acres with 15 major buildings, including the contents of two libraries and seven very modern laboratories. No one was in a position to protest these expulsions, because of the atmosphere of terror created by the Baath.” The editors regret this error.