Stan Braisted Belknap ’73 LCDR, USN (Ret)

Dear Mr. Drenkhahn,

Please permit me to weigh in on the question of whether or not it is appropriate for Center Harbor to commemorate Belknap College.

Perhaps the most accurate statement that can be made about Belknap College is, in fact, that the college was not very different from others of the time. I would also note that, to this day, Harvard Law does not permit military recruiters on campus (which may or may not change with Congress’s repeal of DADT).

I attended Belknap from 1971 to 1973 as a Navy vet on the GI Bill, after first seeing an ad in the Navy Times educational supplement. The school was totally helpful in granting me lower-level credits for USAFI GED’s taken in the Navy and for professional courses taken within the Navy, which allowed me to progress immediately to the higher-level Physics, Math, Chemistry and Meteorology courses required for my BS in Meteorology.

The meteorology faculty included Professors Derrickson and Woodall, both of whom were retired USAF officers, and many of the students in the “hard sciences” were, like myself, recent vets.

The existence of the two distinct cultures within the college at that time was illustrated by an event on “May Day” of either ’72 or ’73. The leftist students who frequented the student hangout appropriately called “The Joint” decided to have a “strike” in support of the MayDay demonstrations in Boston, and got some cooperation in this endeavor from sympathetic members of the administration and faculty. However, others, such as Dr. Derrickson, did not. He, in fact, stated to his students, “I am paid to teach at this college, and I will be here in my classroom for those of you who wish to attend, but no onus attaches to any who choose not to”.

Most of us vets did show up the next morning, and, in our accustomed military fashion, took spontaneously-organized and focused action. Without having to resort to violence, we simply formed up wedge phalanxes, and cleared our own way through the pot-addled hippies occupying the walk space between the The Joint and the classroom “Barn” – where we attended the classes we had paid to attend with our meager GI Bill benefits.

Two representative (early ’70’s) communities, indeed. Just like the rest of America,- military and “hippies”, as well as many varieties of inbetweens.

In addition to being somewhat “Vet-friendly”, the college also participated in a program (likely state-funded) to offer college admission and tuition assistance to “welfare mothers” in the hopes that they would be able to both better themselves and their children AND convert taxpayer dependents into taxpayers. The program produced some spectacularly successful graduates, a victory for both socialists and capitalists!

Many of us students gave significant time and effort to attempts to financially rescue the school when the administration failed to operate it as a sound business at the behest of those ‘career students’ who did not grasp or chose to ignore the basic principles of commerce and finance well-known to others (e.g. – filthy Capitalist pigs). We joined with many local citizens of means, including my part-time employer G. Huntington Damon, to attempt that effort to put the school on a sustainable course. Ultimately, we were not able to oversome the socialist (mis)beliefs that the school could entertain droves of nonpaying and nonproductive “students” and remain afloat, and it eventually became obvious that it was time to opt to step back and allow a merciful death.

Again, there were two distinct communities within the college’s realm, socialists and capitalists, Marxists and Randites.

Fortunately, through my accelerated class load, I was able to graduate just before the college closed, and was able to use my newly-earned degree to re-enter the Navy as a Naval Flight Officer candidate, ultimately enjoying another fifteen years of Navy service. Belknap College provided me the means to conduct my own “Operation Bootstrap”, and the community of Laconia was where my wife found work and where we made our home with my young son. Center Harbor was where I was also able to find work with which to augment my GI Bill, and where I was always treated fairly.

Therefore, I urge the Selectmen to continue to recognize the college, complete with its varied history, which included significant opportunites for vets, as well as social challenges which were not atypical of the society at large. As far as I know, although none of us were wearing our uniforms anymore, no-one ever spat on a single Belknap “baby-killer”…

You are encouraged to share this letter with any and all complainants which wish to thwart the commemorative effort, as well as the community at large, should that be hepful.

I remind the vet opposition that we vets took an oath to, served, fought and died to “Support and Defend the Constitution of the United States of America”, as well as the Bill of Rights, under whose provisions ALL citizens, including ourselves and those who disagree(d) with us, live in still the most free nation on earth.


Stanley W. Braisted Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy (Retired) Achilles, Virginia


Further thoughts as a followup to my previous letter, and I concur with Jim that you did not upset, but energized.

It’s too bad that you have to waste any time whatsoever answering the Tuftonborough motorcyclist, but I suppose that comes with the territory when you’re serving as a selectman. ( I, for one, would rather fly night ops off the carrier in a Nor’easter than be a town selectman ! )

Trying to come up with a “number” or percentage of vets who attended Belknap seems to me to verge on justification, which neither you nor anyone else owes this nether region sphincter. I, for one, chose a military career for my own reasons, and what anyone else did or did not do, even during wartime(s), was truly irrelevant to my own choices.

Suffice it to state that many of us, like myself, CHOSE the college AS Vietnam era VETS (there were at least a dozen when I was there), and I and others went on or back to the services after attending or graduating from Belknap. Had he so wished, this character could have made the choice to use his GI Bill to do the same, which may be cheerfully pointed out to him. If he replies that he “couldn’t afford it” – I somehow managed it with wife and child, working odd jobs and carrying twenty semester hours of rigorous sciences and math. I would be glad to speak with him, if you would like a career military Belknap graduate to enagage him. After all, Belknap was truly a most productive hiatus for me, coming between the six years enlisted and fifteen years as an officer which I was privileged to enjoy.

However, I suspect that this chap actually resents the fact that he was in the military, for whatever reasons, whilst others were not. If he was, in truth, both a Korean and Vietnam vet, then he was a reenlistee at some stage, not simply a draftee. Focusing on “draft dodgers”, especially inaccurately (a 2S deferment is hardly equivalent to running off to Canada), shows that he has some other burr under his saddle which is unlikely to be removed through logical discussion or even facts.

Nevertheless, my offer to speak with him stands.

In the meantime, please brush up on the local and federal laws regarding uttering threats – as well as preparing law enforcement for any actual vandalism. Free Speech is a right, even for this butthead, but threats or vandalism cross the line, and must be directly confronted. Period.


Stan Braisted Belknap ’73 LCDR, USN (Ret)

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