A friend brought a moving story from the Sunday Boston Globe to my attention. It begins:
They were three best friends at Harvard Law School who turned their backs on lucrative careers to follow an exceedingly rare path: Michael Weston, who jogged through Harvard Yard in combat boots and openly scorned corporate life, joined the Marines. Helge Boes and his girlfriend Cynthia Tidler, who shared their friend’s sense of duty and adventure, joined the CIA.
Their choices — made out of passion, patriotism, and an urge to live an unconventional life — intertwined their fates.
Boes, a covert CIA operative, died when a grenade went off during training in Afghanistan in 2003, leaving Tidler, whom he had married after school, a widow. In their grief, Weston and Tidler reconnected and married earlier last year. Three months later, Weston deployed to Afghanistan; he died there in October, in a helicopter crash, widowing Tidler once again.
The story is tragic, heroic, and inspirational. Our civilization cannot continue exist without such men and women. And yet, buried within the article, is this stinging indictment of our educational elite:
Since 2000, only about 22 Harvard Law graduates, out of some 4,500, have pursued military careers, according to a spokeswoman for the school. By comparison, Notre Dame Law School had twice as many sign up — out of about half as many graduates.
Less than one half of one percent enlist in a time of war. That’s shameful. Of course, not all can or should serve, but a ratio that low? From a school that prides itself on attempting to foster a sense of civic engagement and responsibility? I could blame an administration that until recently banned military recruiters from campus, but ultimately the blame rests on the students. They know of our struggle with jihadism. They know of the sacrifices of their peers from other schools and other walks of life. They know that other Americans their age are dying for them. Yet — in overwhelming numbers — they choose a different path.
Harvard students, I have a suggestion. Walk on your own campus . . . into Memorial Hall and Memorial Church. Reflect on the men and women who came before you. Read the story of Michael Weston, Helge Boes, and Cynthia Tidler to understand the men and women it can still produce. Then, perhaps for the first time in your life, consider doing something truly selfless.