Belknap College Military Veterans

Belknapians’ Service to America: A Page to Honor Belknapians Who Served in the United States Armed Forces

INTRODUCTION

NOTE: THIS PAGE IS AN INTRODUCTION TO THE THOUGHTS AND REMINISCENCES OF BELKNAPIANS WHO SERVED OUR COUNTRY IN THE ARMED FORCES. TO VIEW THEIR INDIVIDUAL STORIES, PLEASE CLICK “BELKNAP MILITARY VETS” UNDER CATEGORIES TO THE LEFT.

In response to the public suggestion that Belknap College existed as a draft dodge, the Belknap College alumni community has herewith expressed itself quite clearly in the correspondences that follow.

Drs. Royal M. Frye and Virginia M. Brigham, along with a distinguished nucleus of talented faculty and administrators sought to establish a small, 4-year liberal arts college after their initial efforts did not work out at Canaan College. The initial efforts of those distinguished educators and scientists largely preceded the major Viet Nam War and draft issues that were gripping the nation in the mid-late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Belknap College closed in 1974 because it was unable to secure HUD funding for the permanent library that was required for regional accreditation, which completes the national recognition of the US Department of Education. The young school simply did not have the alumni base required to create substantive endowment that most schools rely upon to build academic buildings and survive difficult economic times. And Belknap’s prime benefactor pulled out largely due to these factors. Dr. Frye had passed on and despite the herculean efforts of Jim Sutherland, the school could not make ends meet.

Thus these efforts to establish an excellent college in Center Harbor ended in 1974. But for the alumni who still appreciate and understand that experience, the pride in our nascent alma mater remains strong. And when perverse charges such as the draft dodge were recently leveled, Belknap’s military veterans spoke up and expressed our pride in the US Military as well as our own roles.

In addition, let it be known that Belknap College never made any anti-war pronouncements from the administration. The College did not invite anti-war speakers to the campus. If one wanted to see and hear the Chicago 7 live, one went to UNH or elsewhere. Between 15 and 20 students became active members of the local 368th Engineers Battalion, US Army Reserves, in Laconia at the behest of that organization’s Commanding Officer when he was invited on the campus to encourage enlistments in 1967. As a member I can attest to the fact that no student, administrator or faculty member ever criticized me for joining the 368th in Laconia.

Numerous Belknap students came to the school having already served in the military as enlisted personnel and officers – and they were well respected by their peers. And as evidenced by numerous letters that follow, many alumni joined the military after graduation, and not all were males.

In our country any individual is free to make any outlandish or absurd statement they want. Belknap College alumni have responded to this most recent falsehood to the extent that any reasonable person can now ascertain that our school was neither organized to be a draft dodge nor did it behave as a draft dodge – any more or less than any other college in the US at that time. The tumultuous times that characterized America in the 1960’s and early 1970’s threatened to divide Americans sharply, even among families. Belknap College students were integrally involved and aware of our environment in those days and our opinions often differed on the war and politics. Yet we were then and are now true Americans to the core. And our core patriotism does not include Nazi brownshirt style threats to destroy the mutual tributes that Belknap alumni and the Town of Center Harbor recently unveiled.

Belknapians’ Service to America

Comments

  1. Kirk Shriver says:

    I can’t speak for others but I was a draft dodger, I just didn’t know it. I had no intention of doing military service. I was 19 years old and trying to figure out what I was going to do the next day, next week and next month, with little idea of what would be happening next year. I knew that going to college gave me a draft deferment and I was just happy to have it. No deep philosophical thought entered into this decision.

    As a new college student I was way too busy trying to figure out when and where to eat, what time to catch the bus, what classes to take, when to find time to study, and what is this place anyway. I think for most people you have to be a little privileged to be against something that doesn’t seem to have any affect on your daily life. I know it’s possible to care deeply about abstract issues but my mind at that time was more concerned with the the civil rights movement than the anti-war movement.

    After leaving BC I got my draft notice but avoided the draft by enlisting (for better options). After serving my three years I joined the anti-war movement and marched on Washington twice in the early 70’s. Too many of my friends came home in boxes. Too many lies came out of the White House. Too many good people were persecuted. I fully understand and remember those times when my own father had a bumper sticker on a car, “America, Love it or Leave It”. I hope I never say anything that stupid. And the best thing is that the first amendment permits me to say stupid things by accident which I will inevitably do.

    Kirk

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