The first time Milan Richard got a dose of Clemson’s military history was during a visit to Clemson in 2013.
The Tigers of course ran down the hill in its purple uniforms prior to beating The Citadel, 52-6, that afternoon, but Richard could tell the day was more than about the game. It was Military Appreciation Day at Clemson and the afternoon was about honoring the Armed Forces and those who sacrificed their lives for our country.
“I remember that week and just talking to some of the coaches and things about military appreciation and the graveyard right by the stadium and things like that,” the senior tight end said.
Richard, who is from Savannah, Ga., isn’t like some of the players on the team. He was aware of Clemson’s military heritage before he got there.
Each year, during this week, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney will take some time to educate his team on why Military Appreciation Day is so important to Clemson University.
“That is something we will talk about later on this week with these guys on Memorial Stadium, the Scroll of Honor and that this is a military school,” Swinney said.
Clemson was once known as Clemson A&M College, Agriculture and Military, from the time it began in 1889 through 1955, when it opened its doors to females for the first time. It later became Clemson University in 1965.
“It was an all-male military school up until then. Sometimes our guys are always kind of surprised when they hear that for the first time,” Swinney said. “It was a different Clemson for sure back then. We take a lot of pride in our military appreciation for sure. We had the second or third most alumni that served and lost their lives in World War II. It is deep. It is a really deep history here.”
It is a history Clemson’s football players are proud of and are glad they get the opportunity to honor those who have served our country in the past, present and the future.
When he walks past the Clemson Cadet over looking Bowman Field, Richard always thinks about those Clemson men who sacrificed their lives, so he could attend and play football at Clemson. Bowman Field is where the Clemson Cadets did PT every morning and marched.
“Bowman Field is extremely special,” he said. “I had class right next to it. I would walk by it for a semester every other day. I always thought it was cool that it took place right there. Also, the first football game took place right there.
“A lot of special things happened on Bowman Field and I do think it is something we cherish and take seriously.”
Clemson will honor the military prior to Saturday’s game against Duke at Death Valley. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.