In what is believed to be the largest gathering of uniformed students at the University since Winston Churchill spoke on campus in 1943, more than 170 Harvard veterans from all the service branches gathered at Cambridge’s Sheraton Commander Hotel Monday night (April 25) for a dinner honoring students who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. The keynote speaker was retired four-star general Stanley McChrystal (National Security Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School, 1997)—“one of America’s greatest warriors,” according to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

Former commander of the U.S. and International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan, McChrystal also headed up the world’s premier military counterterrorism force, the Joint Special Operations Command. “General McChrystal’s command crushed the heart of al Qaeda in Iraq,” said Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) midcareer student Major Robert Kinder, U.S. Army (ret.), a longtime McChrystal adjutant and friend, in his introductory remarks.

The event, the third since 2007 held in honor of Harvard veterans, was hosted by the Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership (CPL). Co-sponsors included the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Harvard Business School, the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust; the Sheraton Commander Hotel, Donald Dixon and his wife, Betsy; Georgette Mosbacher; and a Marine Corps, Vietnam veteran who wished to remain anonymous.