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MMI adds to two-year system

America has always been imbued with the notion of the “citizen-soldier” ever since the “minute men” made their mark in the foundation of our Nation.

And it has been the “citizen-soldier” who has kept our democracy free and viable in a world seemingly bent on allowing despots and tyrants to set up rule by whatever means they conceived.

We have often heard the phrase “citizen-soldier” associated with General George Marshall, graduate of the Virginia Military Academy and later Secretary of State, whose ideas of governance by those trained under the philosophy of the “citizen-soldier” wove the tapestry which allowed Europe to recover from the devastation of World War II.

It is this same notion, this same philosophy, this same foundation which is right at our door step here in Alabama’s Black Belt in the beautiful setting of Marion Military Institute, which has been functioning and producing “citizen-soldiers” since 1842.

And now, Marion Military is part of Alabama’s two-year system.

Within the past two weeks, the Alabama State Legislature, the State’s Post Secondary System, and the governing board of MMI agreed that an institution with as much tradition and excellence as MMI should become part of the State’s Two-Year College System.

And so it is.

The benefits are too numerous to cite in their totality in this short column.

Briefly, however, MMI will offer youngsters a wide variety of options, not the least of which includes an opportunity to gain a disciplined two-year degree for transfer to four-year institutions.

Other attractive options offer a track to prepare students for entrance into one of America’s military academies, West Point, Annapolis, the Air Force Academy, King’s Point (the Merchant Marine Academy), and the United States Coast Guard Academy.

Another program which caught my attention when I attended the orientation session for fellow two-year institutions last Wednesday was one in which MMI students can earn their commissions as officers in the Army ROTC Early Commissioning Program (ECP).

This will allow them to continue on to a four-year institution as officers.

Now, I know that there are Junior ROTC programs Marengo County, such as Demopolis High School, as well as in other Black Belt high schools.

It only seems natural that some of our students in those JROTC programs would want to take advantage of such opportunities – right here in the Black Belt!

The stated Institutional Mission of Marion Military Institute is as follows: “The mission of Marion Military Institute is to educate and train the Corps of Cadets in order that each graduate is prepared for study at four-year institutions with special emphasis on providing an intellectual, moral-ethical, physical-athletic, and leadership development experience in a military environment.”

Such a statement of purpose and principle could not be more clear.

And in a time during our country’s history which is yearning for real leadership, knowing that an institution which celebrates and emphasizes the rudiments of disciplined principles for leading as a “citizen-soldier” there seems to be a ready-made opportunity for not only success in this venture – but a pattern for excellence in this endeavor.

In America’s military history, over two hundred generals and admirals have been trained at Marion Military Institute.

How may more are out there?

How many more are here in the Black Belt just waiting for an opportunity to follow those who saw the advantages of studying at MMI?

This is what is so encouraging and so heartening for us, not only as a part of Alabama’s Post Secondary System, but as citizens of Alabama’s Black Belt who must see this as a tremendous opportunity to gain a solid education and a secure preparation for leadership as a “citizen-soldier.”

Contacting Mr. Dan Sumlin, Vice President for Enrollment Management at 1-800-664-1842, will get our youngsters started.

There are also a number of scholarships available for the class which will enter in the Fall of 2006.

As one who comes from a military family and knows the importance and effect of gaining an education of this type I find it difficult to contain my enthusiasm for this development.

Marion Military Institute is good for our Alabama Two-Year College System.

It is good for our young students searching for something solid from which they can build a base.

And it is good for our students in the Black Belt who can use their JROTC experience as a bridge to earning an excellent education.

Dr. Arthur Ogden is the Campus Director for Alabama Southern’s Demopolis Campus and holds all his degrees in philosophy.

He can be reached at aogden@ascc.edu.