Forty U.S. Marines experienced Clemson University’s esprit de corps Thursday, getting a grounding in the school’s traditions of service even while Clemson officials feted the Marines for their own.
“This place is dedicated to those who lived and served and died so that we could live to serve,” said retired Air Force Col. Sandy Edge, opening his guided tour of Clemson’s Scroll of Honor, listing the 482 Clemson graduates who have lost their lives in the military.
Edge, director of Clemson’s College of Business and Behavioral Science Academic Advising Center, was among those greeting the Marines at their arrival near the stadium Thursday morning.
The Marines are visiting Oconee County this week as guests of the Salem area “Honoring Their Service” group.
The Salem group partners with the Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital of the Greenville Health System to bring the Marines from Camp Lejeune, N.C. This is the sixth year of the program.
The tour of the Clemson stadium, West End Zone, including a visit to head coach Dabo Swinney’s office and lunch, was the final event of the week for the group before traveling back to Camp Lejeune.
Edge related the history of Clemson’s traditions of promoting service, both military and public service, and focused on the question carved in boulders, one word to the boulder, in the memorial park surrounding the Scroll of Honor: “How Will You Serve?”
“We all serve,” said Edge. “Some serve in the military, some serve as doctors, some as politicians … We all serve. “Every Clemson graduate or visitor that comes to this park is asked that, ‘How Will You Serve?’
“As Marines,” he said, looking at the group around him, “you’ve already answered that.”
Those Marines who could entered the stadium the way the Clemson football team does, with a run down the east end hill after rubbing Howard’s Rock, the piece of stone from the actual Death Valley once given to coach Frank Howard and now a big part of the football program’s venerated institutions.
“They call it the most exciting 25 seconds in college football,” Joe Galbraith, assistant athletic director for communications, describing the Clemson Tigers’ traditional running entrance. “For us it certainly is.”
“The hill didn’t look that steep on TV,” said Cpl. Jeremy Popovitz after he’d reached the stadium floor. “Makes a great entrance.”
“Awesome, just awesome” was LCpl. Logan Bryson’s description of his week. Bryson, from Anderson, is medically retired from the Marine Corps after a tour in Afghanistan. “I really want to thank the people who organized this,” he said.
Tom Morse, who is co-chairman of the “Honoring Their Service” group in the Salem area, said that once the Marines leave, that’s not the end of what his group does.
“We have a family program, where they can come back with their families and stay a while at a condo that’s donated for the time,” he said.
Three Marines from past years have taken up the offer, he said.
The group also collects packages for National Guard units, he said, but the planning for the Marines annual June visit is almost a continuing process.
“We start planning it in January,” Morse said.