From The Editor

Why we fight

by Steven Boyd Saum |

To answer that, you could begin at the end: with the AfterWords of this issue of the magazine, where a leading scholar in behavioral finance tells his personal story—which is also his family’s tale—which is carried along by the currents of an epic river of history: “My parents were teenagers in Poland in 1939, when the Nazis invaded.” But in an important respect, his is a story with a happy turn of plot, one that leads to the Mission Campus—where, naturally, many of the stories that we catch in SCM begin or end or circle back to time and again. We want those stories to speak truth and we want them to speak to you in a timely (or even timeless) way. We want them to answer questions and, perhaps more important, to raise them.

Or to answer that phrase, you could begin with our cover feature on Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ’60, J.D. ’63—no stranger to readers of this magazine. We hope that a conversation with him—looking back over the year just past, and looking forward to the months and years to come—might illuminate the ideas and ideals of Panetta in the Pentagon. (You also get an angle on the jokes he tells—which tend toward the poignant; take the one about the priest and the rabbi at the boxing match.) It’s been more than a decade since the United States went to war in Afghanistan. But the mission to find Osama bin Laden was at last successful in May. And the last American troops came home from Iraq in December.

As students of history and those who lived through the Second World War know, Why We Fight is also the name of a series of films made during World War II to make the case for war to the American people. This edition of SCM is rich in history, particularly in telling stories from training of U.S. Army officers on the Mission Campus, both as part of the Reserve Officer Training Corps for the past 75 years and, before that, officer training that stretches back a century and a half, nearly to the founding of a college in Santa Clara. This is a tradition that is very much alive, so here are a couple questions that hover over the article on the Bronco Battalion: How does the past speak to the present? And the present to the past?

For me personally, the past—in the form of that marvelous panoramic image at the top left of the ROTC story—speaks with a familiar voice: I keep looking for the face of my Grandfather Hank there among the Santa Clara men arrayed before the Mission Church in 1918. Actually, he wasn’t there—he was at a camp in North Carolina, but that farm boy from Kansas wore the green wool uniform with a tank corps patch on the shoulder. He never did make it to Europe to fight; he was supposed to ship over in November 1918. But he used to say, with a twinkle in his eye, that the Kaiser heard that Henry was coming and decided to throw in the towel. Even as a boy I knew it couldn’t have been so simple.

Keep the faith,

Steven Boyd Saum

John Scalia said on Feb 2, 2012

Dear Editors:
I find it repugnant that Santa Clara Magazine is acting as a shill for the U.S. military-industrial killing machine. When I was the news editor of The Santa Clara and wrote op-ed pieces opposing the Vietnam war, I naively assumed that my country was merely mistaken. Certainly, America was not a colonialist, imperialist, oppressive power. I was wrong: we were and are.

The idea that an allegedly christian institution (your bona fides are certainly questionable after this issue) would support killing and subjugation of foreign peoples was the reason that I and a number of my classmates walked out on the graduation ceremony in 1968. Unless, of course, I missed out on the bible passage where Jesus extols his followers to go out and kill....

And before Mr. Panetta gets his patriotic panties in a bunch, let me point out that my dad spent WWII in a diesel submarine in the south pacific, and two of my children attended West Point. My oldest son was a blackhawk pilot. I would be happy to debate Mr. Panetta or any of his representatives before a student assembly at SCU on the issue(s).

Sincerely yours,
John Scalia '68, J.D. ( UCLA) '71, news editor of The Santa Clara in 1965 and 1967-68

Eric Lane said on Feb 2, 2012

Dear Editor,
I was shocked at the jingoism displayed in the winter issue of Santa Clara Magazine. I was an ROTC cadet in 1969, my freshman year, and remained one until the spring of 1970. I had planned to make the military my career back then. I had spent six and half years at Palo Alto Military Academy (from 3rd grade to 9th) on a scholarship and the military was in my blood.

Why did I stop ROTC? Because by 1970, many of my high school friends who had not been as fortunate as me to have gotten a college deferment (we had a draft in those days), were coming back from serving in Vietnam. I shared an apartment in Mountain View with a number of friends (to cut costs) and some of my roommates had served as 'grunts.' Naive and basically ignorant of why we were in Vietnam, I had not understood the magnitude of what we were doing and what was happening.

What shocked me to my core, however, and turned me into someone who opposed the war in Vietnam was when these vets, my friends who had returned from their tour of duty, began to march against the war. I can't tell you the impact that had on me.

When you showed the picture of ROTC cadets marching 'over' protesters at SCU, I knew many if not most of the students involved on both sides. To this day I wish I had been wiser, smarter, and angrier at what we were doing in Vietnam.

I still struggle with how we as a so-called 'Christian' nation, a majority of Americans professing to be followers of Jesus Christ, can be so easily stampeded by fear into invading other countries and killing so many people on flimsy arguments and outright lies.

Eric Lane '73

Tom Waldrop said on Feb 29, 2012

Dear editor,
The photo of anti-war protestors disrupting the 1970 ROTC President's Review In your Winter 2012 edition brought back memories of a tumultuous time. It's easy to forget the extreme polarization, but by 1970, few on either side seemed able to respect the views of the other side. I remember Dean Gerald McGrath that day, asking us to cease the disruption. I could see his point of view—not least because he seemed to understand ours. For me, this was a learning experience, and the best of what SCU and a Jesuit education represented.

Word then was that the Associated Press photographer died later that day of a heart attack. Out of respect, his colleagues ran the photo on a wire that got worldwide distribution.

Tom Waldrop '69

Donna Colomby said on Aug 12, 2012

My father, Paige Abbott, took the 1970 photo of the ROTC protest. Thank you for remembering it and him in your post. Although he had worked for the AP in the past, at the time that he took this photo he was the Chief Photographer at the San Jose Mercury News.

Winter 2012

See all articles from this issue


My fight, my faith

As secretary of defense in an age of budget austerity, Leon Panetta '60, J.D. '63 has to make sure the Pentagon doesn't break the bank and that the nation doesn't break faith with the men and women who serve.

Bronco Battalion

What does it mean for a Jesuit university to be home to the Reserve Officers' Training Corps? Seventy-five years after ROTC came to Santa Clara—and 150 years after officers were first trained on campus—a few answers are clear.

Mission Matters

Going global

A $2 million grant creates a year-long fellowship program—with students taking part in a global network of socially conscious businesses.

Bribes, bombs, and outright lies

Legendary lawyer Clarence Darrow comes to campus—and shows that ethical issues raised in the Trial of the Century remain as vexing today as they did when spittoons lined the courthouse floor.

Alumni Arts

Let me lay it on you

Hot Tuna is back with their first studio recording in 20 years.