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Honoring the war dead at Brown

To the Editor:

I was glad to see Alyssa Ratledge's '11 recent column ("Do you know what today is?", Nov. 11), because I too grew up formally recognizing this day. I grew up in the UK during World War II. We lived on a hilltop south of London, on a regular night flight path for German bombers. I witnessed directly the toll of civilian non-combatants, and of air-war combatants. A kindergarten classmate was an early fatality; an uncle was lost in the El Alamein campaign; a cousin of my father, Lilian Rolfe, born in Paris in 1915, came from the safety of South America to become an SOE radio operator helping the Resistance in German-occupied France, but was captured in 1944 and executed in a concentration camp. Faculty members I have known here had their own war stories from around the world. A German academic host in the 1970s had seen his brother die when the family house was bombed in the same conflict. In remembrance of these and many others I hope to see Veterans' Day recognized more strongly at Brown in the future, and include not only remembrance of Brown students who served but, as part of our international standing and heritage, also honor persons around the world.

Ratledge speculated why ROTC was removed from the campus (there had been courses for credit taught by ROTC-appointees).  I think investigation will show that faculty here decided they did not want courses for credit given by instructors for whom the faculty had no say in selection and where course content could be limited to "official views," and where dissenting discussion would be strongly discouraged, thereby failing to provide academic freedom for students, and where the military-appointed instructors would fear a record of considering ideas out of line with current policies.

Peter Richardson
Professor of Engineering and Physiology
Nov. 11


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