Monday, March 24, 2008

ROTC – Reserve Officers Training Corps – in the U.S.

In MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL, the husbands of the four newly married women each earned an officer’s commission in the U.S. Army by participating in Reserve Officers Training Corps – ROTC – on their college campuses.

At the start of the novel in the spring of 1970, anti-Vietnam War protests have frequently targeted these ROTC on-campus programs.

The Wikipedia entry on ROTC gives the history of the program:

“The concept of ROTC in the United States began with the Morrill Act of 1862 which established the land-grant colleges. Part of the federal government's requirement for these schools was that they include military tactics as part of their curriculum, forming what became known as ROTC.

“Until the 1960s, many major universities required compulsory ROTC for all of their male students. However, because of the protests that culminated in the opposition to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, compulsory ROTC was dropped in favor of voluntary programs. In some places ROTC was expelled from campus altogether, although it was always possible to participate in off-campus ROTC.”

The four husbands in MRS. LIEUTENANT have signed on for a two-year active duty commitment. When they arrive at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, right after the Kent State National Guard shootings, the expectation is that each of these four officers will serve a “short tour” – a year in Vietnam. And each night on the television news are the reports of the dead and wounded, a daily reminder of what their wives fear most.

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