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The production of this issue of Holy Cross Magazine has spanned the duration of the war in Iraq. On March 20, the day the war began, we made the decision to abandon our scheduled slate of feature articles and replace it with a “War & Peace” theme.

As the days progressed, the staff tracked the progress of the conflict, checking for breaking headlines on Web sites, e-mailing essays and news stories to one another. At the same time, we were pulling together the contents of the issue. And in this way, the war became a more personal and more emotional experience. Now, as we watch the war winding down, we hope we’ve managed to convey some of that emotion in the pages you hold.

On campus, there were protests both against the war and in support of American troops (and, specifically, our ROTC students and faculty). Prayer services were held and the Chaplains’ Office sponsored a four-part, lunchtime series on Catholic perspectives regarding the war, which featured a presentation on the just war theory, reflections of a military chaplain, and students’ thoughts on the conflict. And, on one particular day, anyone walking up the steps of Dinand would have been confronted with a huge and billowing banner, draped from the library roof, that proclaimed, “Iraqis Dying. We’re No Safer” (see back cover).

Though disagreement about the war was apparent on campus, it was never contentious. In the best Holy Cross tradition, students and faculty spent the weeks of the war reading, writing, discussing, debating and praying over an event both complex and deeply disturbing.

What my own mind turned to, repeatedly, during this time was the status of the recent ROTC graduates I’d come to know over the last several years. That personal connection was underscored when I interviewed Capt. Terry Labrecque, the commander of the College’s ROTC unit and professor of naval science. It was with genuine emotion that Capt. Labrecque spoke about the upcoming commissioning of his graduating seniors: “This is an exciting but very solemn event,” he said. “Because you put your right hand up, and you swear to obey and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies both foreign and domestic. … Our seniors are within two months of taking this pledge. Some will go from Holy Cross, straight to their ship. And if this war is still going on in late May, they’re going to the Gulf.”

It now appears the war will be all but concluded by Commencement. However, there were numerous alumni serving in some military capacity. Thankfully, Holy Cross did not sustain any alumni casualties. HCM managed to track down some of our own during the height of the conflict. Their letters from the Gulf can be found in the Class Notes section of the magazine. Elsewhere, you will find essays from faculty and alumni discussing various aspects of the war. And in an article sure to generate strong feelings, we profile an alumni group opposed to a ROTC presence at the College. As always, we welcome your response to these stories.


Jack O'Connell




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