By ANTHONY GRAFTON [Daily Princetonian] – After World War I, Princeton had its own army ROTC artillery unit, with horses to pull the cannon and a course on hippology on the books for the hundreds of students who joined it. After World War II, Princeton’s administration planned for a future in which every able-bodied student would eventually serve. In the age of the GI Bill, Princeton joined its sister schools in educating hundreds of its own who had left to fight — and a good many other veterans who didn’t come from wealthy families or private schools and owed their educations to government and university support. It was the least that America and its professors could do to help those who had fought and to honor those who died.
Nowadays, Princeton and most of its immediate competitors don’t see things quite the same way. Most of us haven’t joined the Yellow Ribbon Program that helps recipients of GI Bill support to pay for their education. And most of us haven’t managed to attract more than a handful of veterans as undergraduates. More than one school refuses to report how many veterans it counts among its students (much as they used to do in the days of quotas when they lied about the numbers of Jews and Catholics). Princeton has just one American veteran enrolled as an undergraduate this year. Foreign veterans may well be another story. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that more veterans of the Israeli armed forces than of the American are studying here.