In light of this week’s events, the anniversary of 9/11 and General Petraeus’ Congressional testimony, the eyes of the world are now intently focused on the United States military. Though it often seems that we on campus live and work in such a contained atmosphere, Villanova is a direct participant in the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world through our world-renowned ROTC and NROTC programs.

Villanova produces the highest number of naval cadets in the country only after the Naval Academy. In the last 10 years, two of the four CENTCOM commanders have been Villanova graduates. CENTCOM, the United States Central Command, is the military command unit that spearheads military operation in the Middle East, East Africa, and Central Asia, and oversees the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Generals Anthony Zinni and William J. Fallon most likely began their military careers in John Barry Hall. This fact attests to the quality of civilian and military education cadets receive at this university.

While some of us on campus might be up to our ears in student loans, third-year “undecideds” or generally without direction in life, this group of students, the members of the University’s ROTC program, share none of these problems.

Many of these students have most of their education paid for and a tangible plan for the next eight years of their lives – quite an accomplishment for a 21-year-old. During this time they will fulfill their obligation to the U.S. military, spending time on active duty or in the reserves.

Though many things in a cadet’s life are certain, one is not: whether or not they will someday become a part of the 168,000 troops in Iraq – the group of men and women which General Petraeus spoke for in Congress so admirably this week. Is a college education – or in Villanova’s case, a two hundred thousand dollar education worth the possibility of going there?

It is difficult to determine what drives these individuals to this life of service. Though we often see those crisp white, brown or green class-As walking across Mendel Field or pass by the Oreo every Tuesday, we should stop to think about the sacrifices that our classmates are making.

Take the time to notice one of these students today: the kid sitting across from you in statistics or the girl behind you in the line at the IK.

Recognize their service when they’re not in uniform, when their sacrifice often goes unrecognized, and appreciate these students who might risk their lives someday for your freedom.

Semper fi, “Army Strong,” “Honor, Courage, Commitment,” – whatever the motto, Villanova is proud of you, cadets.