Illinois State’s ROTC program in the Department of Military Science been working on a project that not only preserves the program’s rich heritage and history, but keeps past members connected.

As the program celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, the physical wall space within the building that displays the composites from each commissioning cohort has become limited. The department has pursued this project to ensure that the composites remain preserved, while maintaining the ability to display all of the photos in its building.

Through a collaborative effort with Milner Library’s Digitization Center, the program digitized the commissioning composite photos and transferred them to an online space. The original items have also been submitted to the University’s archives collection and Milner’s digital collection. The project not only holds value in preserving the program’s history but also helps to reconnect past members.

“As we continue to commission second lieutenants into the total Army, it is imperative that we attempt to strengthen the connection between present cadets and past members of the Long Red Line,” said Lt. Col. Kraig Kline, chair of the department. “It is my hope that these previous members, who still may be serving or retired, reconnect with the program and serve as mentors for these newly commissioned officers.”

The Army ROTC program is the first phase of officer’s training, producing more than 70 percent of the officers each year that make up the U.S. Army. Illinois State’s program is comprised of students in over 40 different majors (such as criminal justice sciences, biology, and athletic training). Cadets in the program either work, are enlisted in the Army National Guard or Reserve, are not sure if the Army is the correct path for them, or want to go on to pursue further education after college (like medical school).

The composites can be viewed online at Milner’s digital collection site.  

To learn more about the ROTC program at Illinois State, visit the Department of Military Science’s website here.