“There is no way to maintain the frontiers of freedom without cost and commitment and risk. There is no swift and easy path to peace in our generation,” said President John F. Kennedy in his Veteran’s Day address at the Arlington National Cemetery in 1961. His words echoed through Smith Union on Sunday when representatives of the College Republicans recited the speech to commemorate the national holiday, before asking for a moment of silence to honor the sacrifices of American servicemen and women.
“It’s an often overlooked day of remembrance, but what we wanted to do was just remind people ‘hey it is Veteran’s Day and take a minute to think about all the sacrifices people have made for you,’” said Sam Sabasteanski ’13, co-president of the Republicans.
This reading was not the only way that Bowdoin honored Bowdoin servicemen and women on campus.
Professor of Government Christian Potholm has collected photos of alumni in the armed services for a number of years, and put them up outside his office this summer.
“I don’t know any place else on campus where we recognize [alumni] that are serving the country,” said Potholm. He hopes it serves as a reminder “that somebody is out there [fighting] on our behalf.”
Sabasteanski was impressed with Potholm’s effort.
“You can look at, say, the flag pole monument and see the names of Bowdoin people who served before, but it doesn’t hit you quite like having pictures of people, ” he said.
Captain David Donahue ’07 is currently serving as an instructor at The Basic School in Quantico, Va. He recently returned from a three-year tour of duty, during which he spent seven months in Afghanistan before moving on to another deployment in Southeast Asia.
Though he completed Officer Candidate School at Bowdoin, Donahue chose to decline a commission at graduation. However, after working as a civilian in Boston, he decided to return to the Marine Corps.
“Sitting behind a desk all day, I was not having that same sense of fulfillment,” Donahue said. “I wanted to go back to the Marines. I thought that was where I fit in.”
Luke Flinn ’10 is currently training to become a helicopter pilot for the Marine Corps in Milton, Fla. In an email to the Orient, Flinn said he decided to join the Marines because of “the professionalism of its members, its storied history, and its distinct esprit de corps.” Flinn said he knows six other Bowdoin alumni who are also Marines.
Neither Donahue nor Flinn knew of the display in Hubbard Hall.
“It’s pretty cool that [Potholm] would do something like that,” said Donahue.
Another Bowdoin Marine, Captain Katie Petronio ’07, gained national attention this year for asserting her belief that female Marines should not be allowed to serve in the infantry.
In March, she wrote an article for the Marine Corps Gazette titled “Get Over It! We’re Not All Created Equal."
“I can say from firsthand experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not just emotion, that we haven’t even begun to analyze and comprehend the gender-specific medical issues and overall physical toll that continuous combat operations will have on females,” Petronio argues in the article.
Petronio later appeared on CNN to defend her position.
Erika Leach ’02, a captain in the Air Force, moved from active duty to the Reserves in March of this year. As a Reserve Airman, she advises students who are applying to the Air Force Academy and ROTC programs.
“I wanted to have a little more flexibility. With the Reserves, you have a lot more control of where you are,” she said of her decision to join.
Leach began her service in 2003 and chose the Air Force based on the advice of her parents, who both served in the Navy after finishing college. In 2010, she was deployed to Qatar for six months, where she worked closely with a colonel in charge of information technology for the region.
Potholm said that he has noticed a pattern of student athletes serving in the armed forces. Donahue played football and lacrosse all four years at Bowdoin, and was captain of the lacrosse team his senior year.
Though not a varsity athlete herself, Leach noticed similarities between the culture of a team sport and that of the Air Force.
“Athletics and leadership can go pretty hand in hand, whether you’re an actual captain or just on the field. That parlays well into the military from what I’ve seen,” she said.
Leach said that compared to others in the Air Force, her liberal arts background is unusual, but believes that it was beneficial. She found that Bowdoin fosters the same philosophy of“giving back to the community” that the military promotes.
Potholm acknowledges that his is not a complete list, and encourages those who know of other alumni in the military to contact him so he can update it.
While being a Marine is not easy, Donahue still describes his service as the most rewarding work he could imagine.
“There are miserable experiences,” he said. “But the highs we experience together, the sense of accomplishment, that shared feeling between peers and subordinates is incredible.”