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The concept behind ROTC had its roots in military training, which began taking place in civilian colleges and universities as early as 1819 with the founding of the American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy at Norwich, Vermont; followed by various state chartered military schools, and finally civilian land grant colleges after the Civil War, which required military training. The modern Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps was born when President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Defense Act of 1916. This Act established the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, outlined a program of instruction, and authorized appointments as Second Lieutenants, Organized Reserve Corps, for those who completed the course. The entry of the United States into World War I in 1917 put ROTC out of business "for the duration." After the War, ROTC was revived in the National Defense Act of 1920. As the wartime officers of the AEF of 1917-1918 dropped out of the Organized Reserve Corps, the post World War I graduates of ROTC took their place. When war clouds again loomed, the ROTC concept paid off. By June 1941 (six months before Pearl Harbor), approximately 118,000 ROTC graduates had been commissioned. The graduating classes of 1942, 1943 and 1944 added another 34,000 Reserve Officers before the college program was once again suspended for the duration as Officer Candidate Schools became the principal source of new officers who had to be turned out on what amounted to a "crash" basis. Record ROTC enrollments marked the years after World War II as 18,627 college- trained Reserve Officers marched from the campus to active duty from 1946 to 1950. In the 1950-53 Korean conflict, a new generation of ROTC-trained combat leaders earned battlefield immortality. Prominent among them are three whose incredible valor earned them the Medal of Honor, our nation's highest award for bravery above and beyond the call of duty: Lloyd L. Burke (Henderson State College); James L. Stone (University of Arkansas); and Edward R. Schowalter (Virginia Military Institute).
These might have been the ROTC men General Eisenhower had in mind when he said, "This type of leadership is more needed now than ever before. Lacking it, this country...the world...faces disaster."
This program commissioned its first class of lieutenants in 1920 and since its inception, Army ROTC has provided leadership and military training at schools and universities across the country and has commissioned more than a half million Officers. It is the largest commissioning source in the American military. Army ROTC is a diverse group of men and women with more than 20,000 Cadets currently enrolled. Women have been an integral part of Army ROTC since the first group of women was commissioned in 1976. Today, women constitute 20 percent of the Cadets. Army ROTC has a total of 273 host programs with more than 1,100 partnership and affiliate schools across the country. It produces approximately 60 percent of the Second Lieutenants who join the active Army, Army Reserve and Army National Guard. More than 40 percent of current Active Duty Army General Officers were commissioned through ROTC. Army ROTC provides Cadets with the character-building aspects of a diverse, self-disciplined civilian education with tough, centralized leadership development training.
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