For Perry, Life Was Broadened and Narrowed by the Military

Cal Jillson, political scientist at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, talks about how military experience affect a young Rick Perry.


COLLEGE STATION, Tex. — Rick Perry arrived on the campus of Texas A&M University in the tumultuous fall of 1968, cut his hair short, regulation military style, and donned a uniform. College students across America were rising up against the Vietnam War, but Mr. Perry, a member of the Corps of Cadets here, would not be among them.

“There will be no Columbia, no Berkeley here,” the university president, Earl Rudder, declared that fall. When a small band of antiwar protesters took to the steps of the Memorial Student Center, a building dedicated to “Aggies who gave their lives for our country,” young Mr. Perry was incensed. ...

“He barely left home, and while he moved around the world it was in the military bubble,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas who has followed Mr. Perry’s career. “My sense of it is that it insulated him, as opposed to broadening his perspective.”