Patriotism at PC
“The serendipity is amazing and providential,” said Dr. Porter Stokes about organizing the Star Spangled Banner commemoration in conjunction with Military Appreciation Day for the football game on Saturday, September 13th.
Dr. Stokes serves as the Chair of the Department of Music Education at Presbyterian College and organized the Star Spangled Banner event for the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of our National Anthem.
September 14th marked the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Key’s famous poem and our National Anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.” Key wrote the poem following a British attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore when he saw the flag still flying over the fort.
“We talked it over amongst faculty over here in Belk and it just seemed like a good idea,” said Stokes. “It’s also a great way to invite the entire community, at least to make them aware of the anniversary, if nothing else.”
Honoring the creation of the national song, the music department invited the entire PC community to join them on the front steps of Neville to sing the Anthem. The faculty decided to celebrate a few days early so that participants coming from the weekly Music at Half-Past concert in Belk Auditorium could attend.
“It’s a small tribute, but one we think is appropriate,” said Stokes. “We [were] willing to sing by ourselves, but it is an opportunity to include everyone.”
Music Education major, Cassidy Jarret echoes Stokes sentiments, “in general, events like the one that took place on Friday are so important simply because it is a continuation of tradition.”
“Tradition promotes community and a sense of belonging which is important on a very broad level, but also very important at PC,” Jarrett continues. “As a musician, it is really special to be able to use music to bring people together to celebrate.”
The Star Spangled Banner commemoration was just the start to patriotic events at PC the weekend of September 13th-14th. The following day, Military Appreciation Day, PC posted an amazing upset of number 12 ranked Furman University. During halftime at the game, ROTC members took the oath to become cadets with the commitment to graduate as a Second Lieutenant.
“It is an honor that PC has Military Appreciation Day,” said Lt. Col. Donley, Professor of Military Science, “We have a tremendous amount of support from the school, Dr. Lilly, and the community.”
The contracting ceremony is a very special moment for the cadets. “For me, it marked the entrance of my future career into the army,” said class of 2014 graduate 2nd Lt. Richard Taylor, “It’s a very special feeling and I felt proud to be there on the field.”
For sophomore Tyler Fagan, “taking the oath to be a cadet, and eventually an officer in the U.S. Army, felt surreal like it wasn’t even me doing it.”
He said, “As I repeated after General Porter, I recited a second oath in the back of my head: ‘To the best of my ability, I will live my life in a way that honors and respects every soldier that came before me, and I will set the example for all who follow.’”
In addition to the contracting ceremony, ROTC also hosted a tailgate before the game.
“It’s a small community with a lot of veterans so a lot of people come out,” said Donley, “We get to meet older veterans and that’s the best thing. They’re folks who served in WWII and the Korean War. They’re the ones that need to be thanked.”
“There is a sense of mutual alliance and a patriotic mentality that we share and I really can’t describe,” said Fagan, about meeting veterans at the tailgate. “They are all outstanding men and women, the kind of folks I had always wanted to meet and emulate when I was younger.”
If you didn’t have a chance to make it to the ROTC tailgate or the contracting ceremony, visit the Hall of Fame featured around Bailey Memorial Stadium. Those included in the Hall of Fame are alumni chosen by both the school and ROTC who have exhibited excellent service in the armed forces.