I am impelled to write the following in light of the comments of Sharath Raja ’88 re Hindi language courses at Princeton (letters, June 10).
In January 1943 a notice went up on the bulletin board that the U.S. Army was starting an intensive Japanese language school and was seeking applicants. Interviews for potential applicants were to be held in March in Philadelphia. Five of us Princeton undergraduates decided that we would like to apply and would like to have some Japanese-language training prior to the possible interviews. Japanese language had never been taught at Princeton, so we went to see the famous Arabist, Professor Philip Hitti, who was at that time perhaps the closest to an East Asianist at the University. Professor Hitti worked miracles and arranged almost immediately for Ichiro Shirato from Columbia to come to Princeton three times a week to teach us intensive Japanese. The five of us dropped all our other courses and concentrated on Japanese language full time.
After we were interviewed in Philadelphia, three of us — Frank Ellis, John Christensen, and I — were accepted into the Army Intensive Language School, left Princeton, enlisted in the Army, and spent the next three-plus years of our lives as trained military intelligence Japanese language officers. To this day, I feel a real debt of gratitude to Professor Hitti for his marvelous support and foresight.