Veterans Day Special: Bellarmine and the Armed Forces

On Veterans Day, Americans are reminded of ordinary citizens called into service and of men and women who are protecting us abroad. Yet despite the existence of such a holiday, for a majority of Bellarmine students, the military remains an obscure, distant organization. After all, one would rarely characterize Silicon Valley as a place associated with the armed services.

I, myself find Veterans Day to be the most meaningful American holiday of the year. My father and uncle served in the ROK (Republic of Korea) military for two years and my grandfather was an Army Captain who fought alongside American infantry in the Korean War. My father’s cousin, Song Young-Moo was the Chief of Naval Operations for the South Korean Navy before his appointment as the Minister of Defense. Ultimately, my family’s military heritage influenced my decision in coming to Bellarmine because I wanted to surround myself around a community that valued all forms of service – artistic, voluntary, educational, etc.

In recent years, it’s become troubling to see a growing negative perception about the nation’s military. Ever since the Vietnam War, the unpopularity of the U.S Armed Services have increased. Americans continue to remember the details about the My Lai Massacre and reports of unintentional civilian deaths from drone strikes. More recently, American presence in foreign countries like Niger have drawn skepticism. Scrutiny should be encouraged because we need to regulate the operations of our army. However, there is a certain tendency to transform this scrutiny into discrimination against veterans and active-duty members. One vivid example of this type of discrimination would be the banning of ROTC programs on many college campuses during the Vietnam War era. Even in the Ivy Leagues currently, only Princeton and Cornell host Army ROTC programs on campus out of the eight universities in the athletic conference.

Nevertheless, my fellow students and I are extremely fortunate that our school appreciates and also supports students pursuing the military as a career path.

In fact, a surge of interest in joining the military is evident in recent graduating classes. For example, in the Class of 2016, there was only one student out the 395 seniors who went to a U.S Service Academy. In the Class of 2017, there were five graduates matriculating into the service academies including ASB Vice-President Alex Yang ‘17 who now attends the U.S Military Academy at West Point and Matteo Ricci Awardee Michael Sager ‘17 was joined by USTA-ranked Andrew Ton ’17 in becoming midshipmen at the U.S Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Bellarmine also saw the foundation of the Bellarmine Armed Services Club this inaugural year. Max Luna ‘18, the club founder and president, discussed that his central inspiration for establishing the club was his father, Felipe Luna, who graduated from the Naval Academy. “My dad who was a Naval Academy grad, talked about what really influenced him. It was the fact that his school had a Junior ROTC program”

The goal of the Armed Services Club is to bring awareness around the military and expose students to career opportunities and educational lectures.

“Our club really focuses on introducing members [students] to active-duty, veterans and representatives for the armed officers like a Blue and Gold officer,” Max said.

For Max, he is thankful that such a club is welcomed and is expanding on campus.

In the same way, this Veterans Day should be a time of reflection and thankfulness of what we have. Take the opportunity to learn more about the military on your own or through the Bellarmine Armed Services Club. Regardless of your opinions surrounding the military, remember those who have sacrificed the comforts of home for the protection of you and the nation.

Photo taken by Photography Head Robby Cordova ’19