Ready to serve

A collection of stories covering Harvard University’s 373rd Commencement.

A class of 23 new military officers took their oath of service at Harvard’s Memorial Hall on Wednesday against a backdrop of sacrifice and honor.

Surrounded by family and friends, along with plaques honoring Harvard’s Civil War dead, the officers were sworn in during a commissioning ceremony ahead of Thursday’s Commencement.

“You take a sacred oath today to something that is far greater than yourself,” Navy Vice Admiral Philip Cullom, the ceremony’s guest speaker, told the group. “And you join a long crimson line that goes back to the very founding of this country.”

Before the swearing-in, Cullom offered advice to the service members.

“Showing dignity, respect for others, and humility will keep your compass headed true north.”

Vice Adm. Philip Cullom
Harvard Interim President Alan Garber (center) and Vice Admiral Philip Cullom
Master Sergeant Benjamin Collins (from left), interim President Alan Garber, and Vice Adm. Philip Cullom.

“Showing dignity, respect for others, and humility will keep your compass headed true north,” he said. “Persevere, be staunch, and be bold. Like my fellow SEAL warriors, never, ever, ever ring the bell. And don’t forget, history will have its eyes on you.”

Harvard, home to the first Army ROTC battalion in the nation, formed in 1916, has lately seen a rise in students interested in military service. ROTC members this year number the most in nearly five decades.

“You inherit a vast legacy of achievement,” Alan Garber, Harvard’s interim president, told the graduates. “May you choose both to learn as much as you can and to teach as much as you can. May you support one another, as you have done throughout your time as students, and may you return to Harvard to find your numbers still growing larger.”

Many of the commissioned grads were supported at the ceremony by a family member who served, including Air Force 2nd Lt. Milo Clark. His father, Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, helped secure the insignia of an officer on his son’s uniform.

“I’ve grown up in a military family so I’ve wanted to be commissioned and to serve my whole life,” Milo said. “So this is this is probably the best achievement and the best feeling ever.”

Elizabeth Foley, an Air Force veteran and great-aunt of newly commissioned Ens. Anne Foley, said she’s noticed a decline in young people wanting to join the military.

“I don’t know how to encourage young people to join because I had a really great experience,” she said.

Foley’s father, Robert, said his daughter has always followed her own path.

“I didn’t encourage her to do this,” he said. “Same with coming to Harvard. I didn’t say ‘Go to Harvard,’ and I don’t know how she got here. She’s been an independent thinker from an early age. I think that’s probably a good trait to have.”

Speaking for herself, Anne said that she was deeply proud of her accomplishment after four years of hard work.

“To finally be on the other side and commissioned means a lot,” she said. “And it’s still kind of daunting to enter the U.S. military as an officer because that’s a lot of responsibility. But I’m super excited.”

Katherine Eddy (right) celebrates the commissioning of her daughter, Isabel Eddy.
Army 2nd Lt. Isabel Eddy is joined by her mother Katherine Eddy.

Isabel Eddy, sworn in as an Army 2nd lieutenant, doesn’t come from a military family, but she found one at Harvard.

“This is just a really exciting ceremony,” she said. “I think we’ve all worked really hard, but ROTC has been so rewarding. I think the thing I’ll probably miss the most is just the people. They’re so supportive, and it’s so nice to have our little community, even across branches, where we’re tight and just supporting each other.”

Other Army grads were Soren Choi, Jack Cogbill, Luis Esteva Sueiro, Owen O’Connor, Ryan Kong, and Asher Spain. In addition to Clark, Air Force graduates were Jasmine Adams, Brad Campbell, Kaylee Kim, Hayden Teeter, Derek Vastola, Jack Walker, and Kayra Yaman.

Joining the Navy ranks along with Foley were Ashley Chung, Aaron Eudaimon, Zack Foltz, Christian McIver, and Ryan Tierney. Eddie Jin and Nick Marcenelle Perez were sworn in as Marines.

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