It has become the daily norm to see malicious vile coming from the left directed not only at us as Republicans, but towards our way of life as well. Who would have thought just 50 years ago that there would be a portion of this country numbering about 20% that is determined to end ours and their own freedom in order to usher in a socialist or communist state. Would we have ever thought as the Great World Wars waged that our own countrymen would call the brave men and women fighting and dying for us murdering cowards? But today, not only is that our reality, but it is becoming the norm. Schools of higher learning are inundated with leftist who brainwash our youth into this type of hateful nonsense. It is on our TVs, on our radios, our own president furthers this repulsion, and it is only getting worse.
But today I saw that Patriotism is not dead, and at least in Gamecock nation, it is flourishing. I have been blesses to be able to be a Diamond Spur for many years and because of this status and my yearly donations, I am privileged to have a suite for all Gamecock home games. I have met over the years some of the leadership of the University of South Carolina and have become steadfast friends with many of them. As with most universities, much of it leadership and teaching staff belong to the left side, but the difference here compared to many other state universities is that most of our staff still hold American dear and have not yet become fanatically hateful of the country that has given them so much.
As I sat in my suite enjoying good conversation prior to the start of the South Carolina/ Auburn game, I had the great honor of meeting a young man who had been badly injured defending our country in Afghanistan causing him to lose his leg just two weeks prior. As I sat in awe at the courage of this young man while listening to how his injury happened, I realized that with all my so called status in life, the real status lay with this hero. As he prepared to leave so that he and some others could be recognized for their service during halftime, he gratefully said thank you to those of us in the room for caring enough to have him at our game so that the cause he held dear could get national recognition. Our chance meeting was over, but I became a better man for it.
But what was to come would touch me in a way that has not happened before and may never happen again. The University of South Carolina has become quite involved in one of the greatest charities in this country, The Wounded Warrior Fund. This charity is devoted to the aftercare of our troops injured in battle regardless of their ability to pay for the care. They are promoted by some of the biggest brands in the world such as the UFC, NFL, and the NCAA. Today was the day my school was to be a part of this great organization and I was blessed to see how the great Gamecock fans would act. As halftime started, the young man I had met just hours before sat in his wheelchair on the 50 yard line joined by other warriors who had been wounded in the service of their nation.
As I sat there in my suite listening to the announcer began this honor ceremony, there was a part of me that feared the possible element in our midst who would so despise what these men stood for that their reaction to the ceremony would cause our school, our city, and our state to be blemished. I quickly scanned the area around my suite and saw every type of person from the preppy scholar to the redneck who already had a few too many beers. I saw the hippies and the jocks, the freaks and the beauties, all together waiting to see why these men stood on the field. My heart swelled with pride but also with trepidation as it all began. The first story of a brave warrior started to be unfolded, and the crowd went silent. He was a middle aged man, one who was a career soldier, wounded while in action. The crowd started to clap. The announcer continued to the next gallant man, detailing not only his service, but what his injuries were and how they were received. The roar of the crowd raised in volume and many stood, some saluting. Again, the announcer continued, right down the line until he came to the young lieutenant I had met hours before. There he was, sitting in his wheelchair, his life forever altered because he sacrificed himself for this country, for us. The roar of the crowd was deafening, few were sitting, and as the story unfolded about how this man was injured, few eyes were dry. As the announcer ended his story, this young man found the strength, two weeks after having his leg removed, to stand and I saw the entire Gamecock nation rise with him. Men and women alike stood in honor of these men, cried without embarrassment because they knew these men were what made America great. We all stood because we were Americans and we owed our gratitude to not only these men, but all who have ever served.
As the ceremony ended and the applause stopped, I took my seat like most of the others. I watched the screen inside my suite as the troops being honored stood on the field talking and having their pictures taken and I quickly said both a prayer for them and a silent thank you. But what came next is something I will never forget. As the men started to make their way along the sideline towards the student seating, those in the crowd nearest the men started to rise, remove their hats, and again, clapped. It was like the wave following these warriors as they left our stadium. As the men neared the exit near the student seating, one of the wounded men briefly stopped and looked into the crowd. As the camera following them zoomed in for a close facial shot, I saw tears running down this man’s face and saw him tell the standing cheering crowd, thank you. It was one of the most defining moments in my life. It was when being a part of the Gamecock nation meant more than football. It was when I saw that American Patriotism was alive and well no matter how hard a small minority try to destroy it. I was a Gamecock, I was an American, and I was proud.