Memorial Day At Clemson: It Really Does Mean More

Clemson fans are used to seeing the pageantry that is displayed during football season, but especially with the events surrounding Military Appreciation Day. As Memorial Day approaches, there will be cookouts and fun in the sun for many.

With that said, let’s look at why, at Clemson, Memorial Day means a little more, as the country takes time out to thank those that served and gave their lives for the freedoms that we, as Americans, enjoy each and every day.

See, the university that so many have grown up loving was originally founded In November of 1889 and known as Clemson College. The college began full time operations in June 1893 as Clemson Agricultural and Mechanical College.

Clemson College later graduated it’s first class in December of 1896. It was originally a military school and had the belief, at the time, that a military atmosphere produced the highest academic excellence.

In 1916, the Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC) was first created at Clemson under the National Defense Act. This established ROTC in many land grant colleges across the the US. World War I saw 1,549 Clemson men serve while 32 gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Then there were more than 6,500 Clemson men in World War II, of which 90% were officers, that were commissioned as a result of ROTC training at Clemson. Of these men, 376 gave their lives in battle.

The mound in the Scroll of Honor Memorial Garden is surrounded by stones with the names of Clemson students who have been killed in action since Worl War I. One of the names is Medal of Honor recipient, Marine Lt. Col. Aquilla Dyess.

Clemson’s Detachment 770 has proven itself year in and year out as one of the nation’s top medium sized AFROTC detachments in both the Southeast region, and in South Carolina. This is proven by the many prestigious awards it has received, like Right of Line, High Flight, and Best in State.

Detachment 770 is also nationally recognized for its dedication to generating quality leaders for the U.S. Air Force. On average they commission 16-20 second lieutenants, and more than 80% who apply, receive rated positions (pilot, navigator). Clemson AFROTC has a very rich military heritage that dates back to World War I.

With the National Security Act of 1947 establishing the Department of the Air Force, Clemson’s Air Force ROTC Detachment was first created. This began a long tradition of producing the finest officers for the world’s greatest Air Force.

In 1955, concurrent with the acceptance of women into Clemson College, Clemson’s Cadet Corps was ended and Clemson then became a civilian school. Although the Cadet Corps was ended, participation in at least the first two years of ROTC was still compulsory for all male students.

Then in 1964, in recognition of expanded offerings of the institution, the name of the institution was changed to Clemson University. By 1968, the ROTC requirement for underclassmen was ended. This stemmed from a decrease in Detachment 770’s size. In 1979, the detachment was reorganized.

Today, it is a subordinate to the Air Force ROTC Southeast Region. Air Force ROTC is an integral part of campus life at Clemson University. This stems from Clemson’s early history as a land grant, military college.

Clemson University has a proud military tradition that dates back well over 100 years, with more than 10,000 Clemson alumni who have served in the Armed Forces. To date, 450+ Clemson alumni have been killed. From World War I, through the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Then you have the ultimate soldier’s story that many got to see unfold just a few years back at Clemson. Daniel Rodriguez walked onto the football team after making a promise to his best friend while in the service together. It was made just before Rodriguez witnessed him killed in front of him during a gun fight with the Taliban.

So when enjoying, not only Memorial Day, but any Clemson sporting events that you may watch or attend, always remember that the Clemson history in our great country goes much deeper than athletics. Many Tigers throughout the years have served and given the ultimate sacrifice so that we, as Tiger fans, can have the opportunity to sit and enjoy the many sports that we do.

Remember that Memorial Day is the day set aside to recognize those Tigers and many other officers that gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. Honestly, we should really remember them every chance we get.

We at hope you each have a fun and safe Memorial Day.

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