“This We’ll Defend” – Senior Military Tribute

For most of the school’s graduating class, May 1 is College Decision Day, a day wherein students must commit to a specific college that they will attend. Other seniors, however, such as Ethan Ruth and Roy Fuller, May 1 is the day where they will commit themselves to a future that represents a stark shift from the twelve years of schooling that preceded it: that of military service. Graduates who plan on entering the military can choose to attend college before enlisting in the armed forces.

“I’ll sign a contract which will be four years, and then I can either reenlist or go back home,” Fuller said. “In the military, you can get school for free. Getting a degree while in the military and having that on my resume will definitely be huge [in finding a future career].”

Ruth, a sprinter for the varsity Track Team, has been interested in joining the military since he was in seventh grade. After graduation, Ruth will attend Illinois Wesleyan where we will study Applied Physics and Engineering, after which he will join the military through the Rotary Officer Training Corps (ROTC), a program that, for students like Ruth, will pay for three years of their college education in exchange for military service. Ruth plans on joining the army after he graduates from college, where he said he hopes to learn about conflict resolution through traveling around the world and having new experiences.

“When I first saw [the military], I thought it looked cool,” Ruth said. “I think this is a future career for me. Once I pay back what I owe, so to speak, I’ll be roughly ten years in, and [the military] starts giving retirement benefits after 20 years, so I’d be 40 years old with a full retirement.”

Fuller, a lineman for the varsity Football Team, decided that he wanted to join the military around the start of his most recent football season. He said he believes that the camaraderie that he experienced with his football teammates will be echoed in the Army after graduation. Fuller’s cousin, Aaron Fuller, who graduated from Central last year and went straight into the Marines, was also influential in his decision to join the military. The army, in his opinion, will help him mature and become more disciplined.

“I feel like I’ll learn not to mess around as much and learn what it means to be a man,” Fuller said. “I felt like I should be there to help people who don’t have the help that they need.”

Graduates who choose to go into military service after high school are given access to numerous resources and challenges that other college-bound students lack. For example, those who commit to enter the armed forces after college must also spend some of their time training for their service before they graduate.

“It’s a big commitment; you can’t go into it thinking that it’s a way to pay for college,” Ruth said. “I won’t be able to party late on a Friday night because I’ll be up at 5 a.m. on Saturday maybe going out into the woods and getting lost and having to find my way back.”