This afternoon the White House East Room was the scene for an ROTC commissioning ceremony. In his remarks President Bush offered a welcome and sustained dig at those “great schools of learning” which believe the program “is not worthy of a place on campus”:
All of you have made many sacrifices to receive your commission. Yet some of you have had to endure even greater hardships — because your universities do not allow ROTC on campus. For those of you in this position, this can require long commutes several times a week to another campus that does offer ROTC, so you can attend a military class, participate in a drill. Most of all, it means living a split existence — where your life as a cadet or midshipmen is invisible to most of your fellow students.
Every American citizen is entitled to his or her opinion about our military. But surely the concept of diversity is large enough to embrace one of the most diverse institutions in American life. It should not be hard for our great schools of learning to find room to honor the service of men and women who are standing up to defend the freedoms that make the work of our universities possible. To the cadets and midshipmen who are graduating from a college or university that believes ROTC is not worthy of a place on campus, here is my message: Your university may not honor your military service, but the United States of America does. (Applause.) And in this, the people’s house, we will always make a place for those who wear the uniform of our country.