Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Forty years ago today, Apocalypse Now was released. As they say, it was kind of a big deal at the time, and actually it still is. Unlike some other movies about Vietnam released soon after the war, Apocalypse Now still largely stands up, unlike, say, The Deer Hunter, which is damn near unwatchable today. I know. I tried. Even Christopher Walken can't make two hours in rural Pennsylvania exciting.
Apocalypse Now might be the first example of people in the military turning a movie meant to highlight the horrors of war into a motivational video about killing the enemy.
On Friday, I will attend the solemn ceremony at Northwestern University in which Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps students will take the oath to become members of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. As both a faculty member and graduate of Northwestern, I try to attend each year as these outstanding young people commit themselves to a life fraught with potential danger in service to our country. They have earned and deserve our solidarity and support.
Almost 50 years ago, as a Northwestern undergraduate, I was arrested for damaging the NROTC offices during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration. At the time, many of us believed that NROTC contributed to the war effort, and therefore had to be removed from campus.
As a leftist then and now, I have no qualms about admitting to my errors, one of which was a wholesale misunderstanding of the importance of the ROTC program — Army, Navy and Marine Corps and Air Force — on college campuses.
A quarter of a century after movie-goers first met Forrest Gump, Jenny, Bubba, and Lt. Dan, the critically-acclaimed drama will return to theaters for a special two-day showing on June 23 and 25 put on by Fathom Events.