Thomas Schiavoni ’72’s Rumsfeld-has-no-place-in-the-top-25 letter (April 2) quickly and predictably morphs into a tiresome anti-war diatribe. I may be wrong, but I’m guessing that, based on his class year and clueless assertion that the troops are doing it for the bucks, he’s never put up his hand and pledged to defend his country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Apparently his valiant Marine cousin proudly did, and, sadly, didn’t make it. I don’t expect Schiavoni to understand, but that’s what vets do. We have and will continue to put ourselves out at the “tip of the sword,” pledging to our fellow Americans that if the “balloon goes up,” we’ll be the first to respond, regardless of consequences. Money’s got nothing to do with it, and Schiavoni’s assertion that “financial exigencies” underlie the all-volunteer force is an insult to American fighting men and women, including his cousin.
My classmate and friend, Tom Schiavoni ’72, shares a cri de coeur over the recognition given Donald Rumsfeld ’54 as an influential alumnus (Letters, April 2). It is all very well for us to intellectualize exercises such as this, professing balance or even “objectivity” in the nominations. Mr. Schiavoni recalls us to consider that consequences need to have a place in our considerations. We honor Mr. Rumsfeld by including him in the list. Do we honor our University by doing so?
Surely, though he was not an alumnus, all Princetonians can thank Lance Cpl. Nicholas Schiavoni, USMC, and his family. For them, the ancient words “semper fidelis” have a meaning and context that most of us will never understand, but which rings out as the last affirmation of a life in the nation’s service in ways that we all need to honor. In “we” I include Mr. Rumsfeld and, of course, myself.
Thanks, Tom. I needed that.