The officers corps of history’s militaries were traditionally the bailiwick
of the aristocracy. Men were led into battle by kings and princes, nobles
and peers, and they learned to officer, if they learned at all, on the job,
as it wasn’t until relatively late that anything like the military academies
as we know them were established. For the Prussian Junkers, service in the
officer corps was a family tradition. In the British Army a man literally
bought his commission, paid cash on the barrel for it, so you can imagine
how well officered some of the old Red Coats were.
It’s different now, of course. Men--and women--attend the officers’ trade
schools: West Point, Sandhurst, Saint-Cyr. Or they go through ROTC. Or, as
rankers seeking promotion, they apply to Officer Command School (OCS).
Rose Halpin, the head of technical services at Westchester Public Library,
is coming at her commission--as a second lieutenant in the 470th Movement
Control Battalion (U.S. Army Reserve)--in a slightly different way: through
the trivium and quadrivium, soaked in Latin, steeped in the
On Thursday, Halpin will leave for OCS at the Maneuver Center of Excellence
at Fort Benning, Ga., to become an officer in the Military Police.
Halpin, CHS Class of 2002, earned her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts at
Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., one of the few schools left
in the country which still bases its curriculum on the Great Books of
Western Civilization. She learned to read Aquinas in the original, mastered
the syllogism, pursued Socratism, then took that highly classical background
with her to Dominican University in River Forest, Ill., where she graduated
with a master’s degree in library and information science.
And having acquired this education, Halpin made the decision to join the
U.S. Army (Regular). It didn’t finally work out. After completing basic
training, she injured herself on the obstacle course in OCS, and while
recuperating took her current position at the WPL in July 2012. Now she’s in
the U.S. Army Reserve but just as adamantly eager to complete OCS.
“There were two slots open for me when I was accepted to OCS,” Halpin told
the Chesterton Tribune. “In the Adjutant General Corps and in the
Military Police. But the Adjutant General is a desk job. It’s
administration. Which is great. The Army needs people for desk jobs. But I
have a desk job right now. That’s what I do and I love it a lot. But I
wanted something different. So I chose the Military Police.”
MPs are tasked with a variety of responsibilities: traffic control,
checkpoints, law enforcement, convoy duty. And it’s potentially dangerous,
Halpin said. “The Military Police is not a combat branch. But it is a combat
Halpin is expecting, at some point, to be deployed. So is she eager for
overseas duty? “No, we all want world peace. But that’s what I signed up
for. I wanted to do something more significant in my life. Nobody’s going to
live or die by the cataloging decisions I make. I saw this as an opportunity
to broaden my horizons and give back. I’ll be changing myself as a person
and be part of something that’s bigger than me, to help others.”
Barring deployment, Halpin will complete her six-year commitment in the U.S.
Army Reserve by serving one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer. “In
the meantime, I’m a librarian.” And, she noted, WPL Director Phil Baugher--an
old Marine himself--has “been absolutely great, nothing but supportive and
understanding,” when it comes to freeing Halpin to serve her country.
Halpin is confident that her classical education will help her as a leader
in the Military Police. “I’ve been taught how to think about things and
analyze things. It’s been a broadening experience. And when you’re leading
people, and responsible for people, if you can’t look at the big picture and
know where you’re going, you’re going to have a big problem.”
What do her old profs at Thomas Aquinas College think about Halpin’s
acceptance into OCS? “Because it’s such a traditional place, they had to get
over that,” she said. “But then they say ‘I think you’ll make a good