Army 2nd Lt. Jason P. LaCerda was one of 55 ROTC cadets representing all military services from colleges and universities from across the nation who were administered the oath of office by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates during a special White House ceremony attended by President George W. Bush. This historic ceremony marked the first time a non-military member administered the oath of commission for an officer.
Previously, the law required a commissioned military officer to administer the oath of commission. A change in the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act gave the president, vice president and secretary of defense authorization to administer the oaths of commission and enlistment.
Prior to the oath of commissioning, President Bush addressed the cadets when he said, \”We gather at a solemn moment for this country. Many of you were still in high school when terrorists brought death and destruction to our streets on September 11, 2001…And yet some of you understood that the cause of freedom would soon depend on your generation’s willingness to step forward to defend it. And when it came time to be counted, each of you volunteered, knowing full well the risks involved during a time of war. As your commander-in-chief, I salute your decision to serve and I congratulate you on a fine achievement.\”
LaCerda was commissioned a second lieutenant through the Army ROTC program at Virginia Military Institute, Lexington, Va., where he earned degrees in international studies and Arabic. LaCerda was named as the number one Army ROTC cadet in the nation. Fluent in four languages, LaCerda attended Oxford University in England, where helped establish an ROTC training program for American cadets studying there.
Receiving the Olmsted Scholarship for foreign study, LaCerda traveled to Morocco where he received an in-depth look at Arab and Islamic culture.