ROTC Cadets Take up the Torch at Annual Veterans Day Ceremony
One week after a hurricane battered campus, and as a blustery Northeast storm drove the season’s first snow around Providence College, Brian Motherway ’15 (Skillman, N.J.) stood in St. Dominic Chapel in military fatigues, swearing an oath to the U.S. Constitution to become a contracted Army cadet.
Motherway, a finance major, began his training with the College’s Army ROTC Patriot Battalion as a freshman, voluntarily marching the Boston Marathon while wearing a 40-pound backpack. As a sophomore this year, he rose before dawn to become physically fit and efficient at tasks for a Ranger Challenge competition in October.
“I have always had the sense that I wanted to serve my country, but was never really sure if that was the way things would end up,” Motherway said. “About a month ago, I earned a scholarship and contracted to serve eight years following my graduation from PC. This day is, with no doubt, the proudest moment of my life.”
Motherway was one of a dozen students from Providence College, Bryant University, Johnson & Wales University, and Rhode Island College who became contracted cadets in the Patriot Battalion during PC’s annual Veterans Day Ceremony on November 7. Traditionally held outside at the War Memorial Grotto, the event was moved to the chapel because of the weather.
The guest speaker was Colonel (Ret.) Theodore Low, a veteran of World War II and Korea who is civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army for Rhode Island.
Low spoke about the need to remember the nation’s 25 million living veterans. He relayed his experience visiting a young soldier who had suffered brain damage several years earlier when an improvised device exploded under his Humvee in Iraq.
The man, living with his parents while receiving outpatient treatment at the Providence VA Medical Center, simply asked Low to hold his hand and pray with him — for the soldiers in his platoon, for the soldier who replaced him, for his family, and for his country.
“At the end, he gave me a big bear hug and thanked me,” Low said.
The young man explained that he could not have prayed with his parents in such a way, because only a fellow soldier would understand.
College President Brian J. Shanley, O.P. ’80 recited a line from “In Flanders Fields,” the poem about the dead in World War I: “To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.”
Noting that the torch is also the symbol of Providence College, Father Shanley said, “You are the ones who are carrying the torch for your country and your school. I am very proud.”
LTC Kevin R. Kugel, professor of military science and Patriot Battalion commander, said the ceremony included two perspectives — that of Low, a veteran, and of the cadets, future soldiers.
PC cadets taking the oath, in addition to Motherway, were Evan Bolton ’15 (North Kingstown, R.I.), Adam Comeaux ’16 (Columbia, Md.), John Cresci ’15 (Longmeadow, Mass.), John Jovan ’16 (Southbridge, Mass.), and Elizabeth Robben ’16 (Old Greenwich, Conn.).
“We have chosen not to stand by and watch, but to stand up and act,” said Motherway, who was chosen to be the cadet speaker. “We are all part of something much bigger than ourselves.”
— Vicki-Ann Downing
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