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The 2021 Military Historical Society of Massachusetts ROTC Essay Contest

The Military Historical Society of Massachusetts (MHSM) is pleased to announce the 2021 Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Essay Contest. Eligibility is limited to cadets and midshipmen enrolled in a Senior ROTC program at any Massachusetts college or university. The winning essay will be included in the Papers of the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, a journal in periodic publication since 1881, and also awarded a total sum of $4,000 consisting of a $2,500 scholarship check to the cadet/midshipman author and a $1,500 donation to support the study of military history at the winning author’s ROTC program.

Essays must be a minimum of 3,000 words and submitted in accordance with the following criteria:
  • Chicago-style formatting (The Chicago Manual of Style) shall be used.
  • Citations will be in endnotes; Bibliographies are required.
  • Manuscripts shall be double-spaced, typed in 12-point font with 1-inch margins, and in PDF format.
  • Each Senior ROTC program may submit up to two (2) essays from its cadets/midshipmen.
  • Essays must be submitted via email to: MHSM.Essay.Contest@gmail.com.
  • The submission deadline is 30 April 2021.
  • The winning essay will become property of the MHSM for publication as described above.
The scholarship and program donation will be awarded to the author and a command representative at an MHSM luncheon prior to the conclusion of the Spring 2021 semester. This event will include a brief presentation by the winning author and may be conducted virtually given COVID-19 considerations, including the potential for some colleges and universities to be operating by remote learning.

A Committee appointed by the MHSM and composed of qualified individuals will judge all submitted essays. The top three (3) essays as judged by the Committee will be provided to the Chair, who will select the final winner. The Chair may also select superior submissions for Honorable Mention.

Cadets and Midshipmen as well as ROTC Cadre are invited to submit any questions regarding the ROTC Essay Contest to: MHSM.Essay.Contest@gmail.com.

Essay Topic: Civil Military Relations
The Final Report of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service issued in March 2020 stated that “civilian and military communities are increasingly isolated from each other, leading to misunderstandings as well as a continued narrowing of the population from which participants in the military are drawn.”1

Such misunderstandings of the military’s nuanced roles are found even at the highest levels of government. Recent, high-profile examples include former President Donald Trump’s statement that he was “sending…the National Guard to Kenosha, WI,”2 something generally outside the scope of his authority, and President Joseph Biden’s pre-election and equally implausible comments that the military would forcibly remove former President Trump from the White House if necessary.3

These and other examples contributed to what retired Army Lt. Gen. James Dubik recently termed “a flurry of debate about the politicization of America’s military.” Dubik cautioned there is no “guarantee that the future will resemble the past with respect to the nonpartisan military the nation has created and sustained for so long,” particularly given the country’s isolation from and misunderstanding of its Armed Forces.5

Essay Question:
What specific examples and lessons from military history can political and military leaders draw upon today to inform a rebalancing of U.S. civil-military relations to ensure a modern adaptation of the military’s historically apolitical existence?
What are some specific recommendations for contemporary change, or for maintaining the status quo, that these historical examples provide?


Essay Considerations:
  • While essays may include subject matter prior to the 19th century, authors should be mindful of the professional officer corps’ emergence around 1808.6
  • Essays may focus on a specific military (e.g. Prussian, English, United States) or may draw material from several.
  • Cadets and Midshipmen may use their essay to challenge the question’s premise if they disagree.
  • “Military leaders” include personnel from senior Pentagon civilians and general/flag officers to company/junior grade and non-commissioned officers.
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1 National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, Inspired to Serve: The Final Report of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, March 2020, https://inspire2serve.gov/ reports/final-report.
2 Calvin Woodward and Scott Bauer, “AP FACT CHECK: Trump Tweets Distort Truth on National Guard,” Associated Press, September 1, 2020, https://apnews.com/ article/2ea05933a91212ccfb1a3ae4c 39e0e79.
3 Jason Lange, “Biden says military would help oust Trump if he loses election but refuses to leave,” Reuters, June 11, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-biden-military/biden-says-militarywould-help-oust-trump-if-he-loses-election-but-refuses-to-leave-idUSKBN23I2JC.
4 James Dubik, “Rebalancing Needed to Preserve Apolitical Military,” ARMY, November 2020, 5-6.
5 Ibid.
6 Samuel Huntington, The Soldier and the State (New York: Random House, 1957), 19-53.

The 2020 Military Historical Society of Massachusetts ROTC Essay Contest

Each year the Military Historical Society of Massachusetts (MHSM) hosts a leadership essay contest to recognize the top essay written by a Massachusetts ROTC Cadet.

The winning essay is awarded a total sum of $4,000; $2,500 in the form of a scholarship check to the Cadet author and a $1,500 check for program funds to support the study of military history to the winning Cadet’s ROTC Program.

2020 marked the 75th Anniversary of the end of World War II. VE Day (Victory in Europe). That victory was possible, in large part, due to the invasions of France and Italy. Those invasions were fueled by massive logistical operations involving the British Isles (BOLERO) and earlier Africa and then Italy (TORCH). This is asides from logistical operations when the British were alone in Africa and the operations supporting the Soviet Union.

In honor of the 75th anniversary of VE Day, the question posed to the 2020 essay participants was: How did logistics shape the outcome of the victory in Europe, what was the scope and organization, and what do you feel was the most significant change to American military logistics that led to and supported the victory?

2020 Competition Winner: Cadet Kyle Hammalian
Boston University Air Force ROTC

Cadet Hammalian is pictured with the certificate he received from the Military Historical Society for his winning entry. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the awards dinner will be scheduled at a later date.

2020 Winning Essay
Strategic Logistics and Logistical Strategies: How the Allies Triumphed in Europe

2020 Competition Winner: Cadet Kyle Hammalian
Boston University Air Force ROTC

Cadet Hammalian is pictured with the certificate he received from the Military Historical Society for his winning entry. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the awards dinner will be scheduled at a later date.

2020 Winning Essay
Strategic Logistics and Logistical Strategies: How the Allies Triumphed in Europe

Past Essay Contest Winners

MHSM members, please login to view complete contest archives.

Past Winners
2019 Winner – Cadet Easun Arunachalum Essay: Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps: Progress and Prospects
2018 Winner – Cadet Lucy Lee Essay: Cryptography in the First World War
2017 Winner – Cadet Eva Lisowski Essay: An Ordinary Hero
2016 Winner – Cadet Eric Koch Essay: American Spirit: The Yankee Division in the First World War
2015 Winner – Cadet Jocelyn Bly Essay: Mission Command: A Timeless Weapon
2014 Winner – Cadet James Kiefner Essay: Portrait of General Ulysses S. Grant (Un-titled essay)
2013 Winner – Cadet Daniel Silva Essay: From Revolution to Rapprochement | The War of 1812: The Causes, the War, the Legacy
2010 Winner – Cadet Garrett Brnger Essay: A War Fought from Both Sides: The ignored lessons of the American Revolution and their application to Vietnam
2009 Winner – Cadet William Mathews Essay: The Foreseeable Victory: A Justification for the Federal Use of Force in the Civil War
2008 Winner – Cadet Spencer Reese Essay: Washington’s Principle: Civil-Military Relations 1776-2008