The top Army Reserve Training Corps (ROTC) cadets from all over the U.S. gathered in Lexington, Va. last week for the 25th annual George C. Marshall ROTC Awards Seminar.
The seminar was held on the campuses of the Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University, where 250 college students, several leaders of the U.S. military and President George W. Bush converged to discuss and deliberate on matters of national security.
Amy Gorman ’02 was chosen to participate as the top cadet from Cornell at the seminar, which took place April 16 through 19.
“The conference is only for ROTC seniors from around the country,” stated Gorman in an e-mail interview with the Sun.
Bush spoke to cadets on the second day of the event in a wide-ranging address about the war in Afghanistan, the threat of Iraq and South Korea and terrorism.
In the spirit of George C. Marshall, who the awards seminar was named for and who, following World War II, created a plan to rebuild Europe, Bush offered his own plan for the future of Afghanistan. The speech gained national attention.
According to the New York Times, Bush said, “Peace — peace will be achieved by helping Afghanistan develop its own stable government. And peace will be achieved through an education system for boys and girls which works.”
“By helping to build an Afghanistan that is free from this evil and is a better place in which to live, we are working in the best traditions of George Marshall.”
“It was an honor to have our Commander-in-Chief come to speak directly to us about what the world will be like when we enter the service,” said Gorman.
Several prominent military officers also gave keynote speeches, including Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, chief of staff of the Army, Major Gen. John T. D. Casey, commanding general of the Army, and Gen. J. N. Abrams.
“They were able to speak to us about our role in the future of the military and our country,” said Gorman. “Most importantly, they reminded us why our decisions are so important for the nation, but also for the troops we will soon be leading.”
“Gen. Abrams was especially poignant because he reminded us of the massive, honorable and enjoyable responsibility that we will undertake soon,” she added.
Cadets also attended roundtable discussions and information sessions throughout the week, such as “NATO: Its Relevance in the Post Cold War Era,” “Israel, Its Neighbors and a Palestinian Homeland,” and “Drug War in America: the Role of the U.S. Military.”
National leaders in foreign relations, national security, the media and the military participated in the seminars.
“I was able to go to two seminars — ‘Japan and Korea’ and ‘Democracy in Russia.’ The ‘Japan and Korea’ seminar was especially interesting because we ended up making suggestions for the United States policymakers, U.S. military, and international community for the reunification of North and South Korea. A number of experts were there to help us through, which was a real treat,” said Gorman.
Some guest speakers invited to lead discussions include retired Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, who recently acted as President Bush’s special envoy to the Middle East and Martha Raddatz of ABC News.
“The most interesting people for me were the ones that I was able to sit down and speak to about world affairs, their careers, and what it might be like out in that big world. It was also very interesting to hear the words of top officials in our government speak directly to us as their future leaders of this country,” said Gorman.
Gorman commented on the accessibility of the numerous officers, and how she was able to interact with both current military personnel and the future military leaders, her peers.
“We were able to interact with top cadets extensively and it was such a treat to be able to swap stories and see old friends from prior training,” she said.
Gorman was chosen for the award as the top Cornell Army ROTC cadet based on numerous requirements and her grades.
She has been in ROTC since her freshman year. “I have a long history of military service in my family and I have always felt that it is important to give back to my country in some way. In addition to doing what I feel most citizens should do at some point, I wanted to better my leadership and followership skills, and the Army was able to pay for most of my schooling, which is so important with the high price of school,” Gorman explained.
She also talked about some of the things she has learned from ROTC.
“ROTC has taught me a lot about leadership in more that just how to lead troops ‘into battle,'” said Gorman. “It has also showed me how important it is to take care of those you are in charge of.”
Gorman plans to enter the military following her graduation, and sees the opportunity of participating in this seminar as a way to further her understanding of the military and the people in it.
She stated, “While in ROTC, I have also solidified my desire to join the United States Army. Before I joined, I only had somewhat of an idea of what ‘the Army’ is like. Most of my impressions were from movies and stories form my father and grandfather. Though I know that once I get in the Army, I will learn a lot more, ROTC has shown me how important and admirable the Army really is.”
Archived article by Mackenzie Damon