Written by MIDN 4/C Alana Davitt
On the evening of Friday March 4th, Midshipmen, Cadets, Unit and Cadre Staff, ROTC Commanders and Honored Guests all came together at the Cambridge Hyatt Regency for an evening of celebration. The 2016 Joint Service Ball for MIT ROTC served many purposes. It was a time for fellowship, for remembrance, for learning, for congratulating, for conversing and in the case of a few brave souls, for dancing.
The event kicked off around 1830 when students gathered in the hotel lobby for a social hour with light hor d’oeuvres and photographs. Dates were proudly introduced and uniform ribbons were adjusted. Promptly at 1915 the crowd was ushered into the ballroom and the ceremony officially began as the distinguished guests took their seats at the head table. After a well executed presentation of the colors and the playing of the national anthem, an invocation was offered and toast proposals were made. The speeches took a more somber tone as Battalion Commander MIDN 1/C Pushaw turned our attention to the empty round table at the corner of the room with covers from each of the four service branches placed around it. Symbolizing those held as Prisoners of War and Missing in Action (POW/MIA), seats were left unoccupied and glasses left un-raised for the men and women who gave their last full measure of devotion to their country. Out of our own devotion to their sacrifice and to their cause we remembered them.
Spirits were lifted however, by the arrival of the delicious main course meals, and the social hour of the night commenced. After a time of lively conversation amongst the Midshipmen, Cadets and Staff, the desserts had arrived and the guest speaker was announced: two special treats in one sitting. Colonel Michael Cornell, USAF, Director of Intelligence Plans and Programs for the Massachusetts Air National Guard, gave the address. In his endearing and topical speech he offered words of wisdom to a young Michael Cornell of the past still in Air Force ROTC, and in doing so imparted wisdom for the future to his audience of current college students on the verge of entering active duty. In his advice he urged young officers first to limit their thirst for action and not to be overzealous when faced with combat, and second to prepare for all expected events but to be ready too for the unexpected. In his third point Colonel Cornell appropriately defended the importance of joint operations among the services including the Reserves and the National Guard. He closed with a commendation to all the ROTC students, especially from such high achieving schools, for putting their countries’ continued success before their immediate own.
As the evening drew to a close, the praise continued. In celebration of the accomplishments of the graduating class, the commissioning information for each senior from each branch was announced to thunderous applause. A final benediction and the retiring of the colors sent most attendees on their way, but a few lingered to break in their dress shoes on the dance floor. Each of us left the ballroom walking a little taller, smiling a little wider. For the greatest success of the Joint Service Ball was its reminder of the strength in the company we keep and the honor in the profession we have chosen.