by Pat Elder for US Catholic

mil_recruiting_flickr_rdecomDuring the 2nd Battle of Fallujah in November of 2004, 1st Lieutenant Jesse A. Grapes saved the lives of three wounded Marines in his platoon by entering a burning house, where he encountered the enemy soldier who had been firing at his troops. Six years later, when Grapes was named headmaster of Benedictine College Preparatory, a Catholic military school in Richmond, Virginia, the school’s newspaper, The New Chevron, called him a “patriotic war hero” in their June 2010 issue.

In describing the new headmaster’s Iraq War exploits, Benedictine’s student newspaper dismissed the fact that Grapes was accused of ordering marines under his command to shoot four captured prisoners. Grapes was discharged from the Marines after refusing to talk to government investigators, citing his Fifth Amendment rights, and declined to take a polygraph test to disprove allegations made against him. “If my word isn’t good enough,” The New Chevron quoted him as saying, “nothing would be.”

It’s quite a lesson for students at Benedictine, which is kind of a poster child for the modern militarized Catholic school. Every year Benedictine requires all juniors take the military entrance exam. The school operates an Army JROTC program and has a student organization that teaches small arms. Of course, these are expected activities in a military school. The question is whether these activities are appropriate in a Catholic school…

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