Members of the Tri-Military Reserve Officer Training Corps honored at annual ceremony
Ciara Hopkinson | Thursday, April 19, 2018
This Wednesday evening, members of the Tri-Military Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) assembled in Stepan Center for the annual Pass in Review, a ceremony honoring ROTC students’ work and excellence over the past year. While the ceremony is a tradition among all branches of the military, Lt. Col. Christopher Pratt said it is relatively rare among ROTC programs.
“It’s an opportunity for the commander, and in this case the president of the university, to view his cadets and midshipmen,” Pratt said. “We’re probably one of a select few that do it, mainly because we have a [tri-military] here, which means you have a lot larger corps of cadets.This is something you would see at Texas A&M, at [Virginia Military Institute], at the Citadel, at the Academies, but not so much at a typical university.”
The Pass in Review has been a Notre Dame tradition since the 1950s when thousands of students marched in dress uniform before University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh on South Quad. This year, the students presented themselves to University President Fr. John Jenkins and Capt. Mark A. Prokopius, this year’s Tri-Military Commanding Officer. The ceremony honors all ROTC members and presents awards to seniors who have gone above the high expectations set for them.
“Each award has a history with it, has a story behind it,” Pratt said. “This is mainly recognizing those seniors who have had significant and lasting contributions with the program.”
In an interview before the ceremony, Pratt expressed great pride in this year’s class of Army ROTC seniors. Nine of the 15 were named Distinguished Military Graduates, placing them among the top 20 percent of all ROTC students in the nation. The best part of the ceremony, Pratt said, is watching students he had built relationships with over the past three years receive the honor and respect they deserve.
“That’s not afforded to just anybody and any student, so for them to have that public recognition from Fr. Jenkins, that’s a really big deal and it’s very important to the students and that’s really the best part of it for me, seeing that interaction between the university president and his cadets and midshipmen here,” Pratt said.
Following the playing of the National Anthem, Fr. Peter Rocca, rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, delivered an invocation, expressing love, gratitude and pride for Notre Dame’s students who will go on to serve as officers in the United States military, as well as their commanders and professors.
Jenkins and Prokopius honored 18 cadets and midshipmen from all three ROTC units who have demonstrated excellence in areas of leadership, character, academics, compassion, service and many others. Students were presented with military sabres, plaques and other awards, many of which were created in the name of Notre Dame alumni who also served in the armed forces.
Following the awards, Jenkins delivered a speech expressing his pride in and hope for the ROTC members and called on them to carry with them the spirit of integrity and service instilled during their time at Notre Dame. Jenkins emphasized the importance of the engraved statement over the eastern door of the Basilica: God, Country, Notre Dame.
“It’s almost become a motto here at this institution,” Jenkins said. “What it says is that our lives should be more than about ourselves. It should be about service to God, to country, to our University. In a way that’s the very heart of leadership: not the mere exercise of authority, but in serving. Serving a mission that’s bigger than yourself.”
Jenkins lauded the students’ leadership in all aspects of their lives on campus and called on them to continue their tradition of excellence and embody the virtues they have learned in their years at Notre Dame.
“As you go forth into this service and beyond, I ask you always to remember the values you learned here and represent those values well to all you meet,” Jenkins said. “You’ve contemplated the morality of warfare, and embraced the virtues of peace. Highest among those virtues are courage, justice, faith, hope and love.”
Jenkins concluded by thanking the ROTC units for their service and dedication, and assured them that they will remain in the minds and hearts of the Notre Dame community forever.
“May God bless and keep each one of you and wherever your service to this great nation may take you in whatever circumstance, know that at Notre Dame, you will be in our prayers. Wherever you go, you will make us proud,” Jenkins said.
Finally, the President’s Cup was presented to the winner of the annual tri-military competition, comprised of a football tournament in the fall, basketball in the winter and soccer in the spring. The Army ROTC won the cup for the second year in a row with an undefeated record.
Rocca gave a final benediction, in which he expressed the hope he saw in the members of the ROTC students in attendance and prayed for their safety and success. To conclude the ceremony, the band played the official songs of each branch of the military while the units stood at attention.