From The Observer
In the middle of the 20th century, Notre Dame’s South Quad was a military rallying point. University archive photos from the WWII era and the 1950s show Notre Dame’s ROTC units and other military organizations marching up and down the quad in front of Rockne Memorial and a partially-constructed O’Shaughnessy Hall.
Wednesday evening showcased that era, as the Notre Dame Trimilitary Organization – the Navy, Army and Air Force ROTC units ¬– presented themselves on South Quad for their reviewing by Naval Commanding Officer Mike Ryan, University President Fr. John Jenkins and the general public at the Annual Pass in Review, a symbolic display of skill and precision. The ceremony included a benediction by Fr. Peter Rocca, the presentation of student awards and a speech from Jenkins.
“It’s a ceremonial thing, where in the field or in other military environments, they’ll do this as kind of a big show,” said senior, midshipman David Murphy, who received an award at the Pass in Review. “There’s usually something attached to it, where we’ll do the Pass in Review, and it’s symbolic when [troops] come home from deployment or something that shows discipline, that the uniforms are properly worn and things like that.”
Junior public affairs officer and midshipman Cassie Gettinger said the ceremony in its current form, in which the troops perform exercises for the University president, dates back to the presidency of University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh.
In recent years, the ceremony has taken place in Arlotta Stadium or the Stepan Center. Junior, event organizer and midshipman Lizzie Terino said the students wanted the Pass in Review to be a visible reminder of the military’s relationship with Notre Dame.
“It’s kind of always been off to the side, not in a public area, but ROTC’s always been a big program on campus,” Terrino said. “The military has a long tradition with Notre Dame, with the Navy using Notre Dame and keeping it open, so we wanted to make it public and for people to come out and see the ceremony.
Midshipman Murphy Lester, a senior and key organizer of the ceremony, said moving the event to South Quad was difficult logistically but ultimately rewarding.
“Historically, you see all these pictures, the old WWII pictures of the whole formation out on South Quad,” Lester said. “South Quad was built as a parade ground for events exactly like this.
“I’m not sure why we got away from it for awhile, but as a senior, I knew for our class it would really mean a lot to parade back and forth in front of the Golden Dome.”
In his remarks, Jenkins pointed to the University’s long relationship with the military, in particular the United States Naval Academy, connecting it to Notre Dame’s identity as a Catholic university and speaking of the importance of each to the other.
“You can point to the past,” Jenkins said. “During WWII, the school was really kept in business by the presence of the Naval community. You can point to the service of generations of Notre Dame graduates in the military … even those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.”
Jenkins said the Notre Dame ROTC program strives to train its cadets and midshipmen to show the highest level of moral integrity according to St. Augustine’s concept of a just war.
“It is a just peace that you cadets and midshipmen will serve. That is a noble cause. A clear and consistent understanding of that high moral calling is what distinguishes everybody in the Notre Dame ROTC program.”