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Nov 02, 2019

Military Appreciation Day Spotlight – Scroll of Honor Memorial

By: Ret. Col. Danny Rhodes

Note: The following appears in the Wofford gameday football program.


During World II, Clemson College often conducted a memorial service to honor its alumni who had been killed during the war. The Honor Roll, which included the names of those killed, was read to pay tribute to their sacrifice in service to our country.

During one such service, alumnus Roy Pearce read the names on the Honor Roll. He wrote the following in the April 1944 edition of The Tiger.

“It made me sad to read the Honor Roll. All were great men and we’ll never let them down, never!”

This commitment made by Pearce in 1944 served as a source of motivation to The Clemson Corps, a constituent group of the Alumni Association, to develop a means by which the memory of these heroes would never be forgotten. This effort resulted in the development of the Scroll of Honor Memorial, which was dedicated in April 2010.

In 2001, The Clemson Corps began to collect names of our alumni who qualified for inclusion on the Scroll of Honor, those who were killed while performing their military duties. In 2002, a portable Scroll of Honor Memorial with over 300 names was unveiled at Military Appreciation Day (Maryland game).

For the next few years, this portable Scroll of Honor Memorial was moved from location to location around the campus to bring recognition to The Clemson Corps’ effort to identify all qualified alumni.

In 2005, efforts began to consider a permanent memorial on campus that would bring appropriate honor to these heroes. Research produced a document in Strom Thurmond Institute from 1942, the year that Memorial Stadium was built.

The memo certified that the new football stadium would be named Memorial Stadium to honor Clemson’s alumni who “have made the supreme sacrifice in the service of their country.” This drew The Clemson Corps to the area around the stadium for a site for the memorial.

In 2006, the Clemson athletic department gave wholehearted approval for The Clemson Corps to use the site across from Howard’s Rock for the Scroll of Honor Memorial. The memorial stands on an axis that extends straight from the WestZone through Howard’s Rock to Tillman Hall.

A concept was developed, and in March 2007, the University Administrative Council gave their 100-percent approval to proceed.

Groundbreaking was held in August 2008. With the support of thousands of alumni, students, organizations and friends of Clemson, the Scroll of Honor Memorial was dedicated less than two years later in April 2010.

More than 1,000 people attended the ceremony, many of whom were family members of the honorees, classmates and hometown friends. Family members of some of the alumni whose bodies were never recovered said that they consider the Scroll of Honor Memorial the final resting place of their loved one.

The Scroll of Honor Memorial has become one of the sites of “sacred soil” on Clemson’s campus, like Bowman Field. We are amazed at how the entire Clemson Family has embraced the memorial. It has garnered the respect of students, faculty, staff, alumni and families. Visitors are also drawn to the site out of reverence to its purpose. The memorial truly reflects those values that we Tigers hold so dear.

The Scroll of Honor Memorial included 470 alumni at the time of the dedication ceremony. Research has continued, and 23 honorees have been added since that time to the Scroll of Honor, which currently totals 493 honorees.

The Clemson Corps continues its research to ensure that we have identified all our military alumni who have given their lives in service to our country. The Scroll of Honor Memorial Committee receives nominations, conducts research to ensure that the nominee meets the qualifications and makes a recommendation to the board of directors that the alumnus be added.

Once a nominee is approved, a stone is engraved in the memorial with the honoree’s name and year of graduation. A ceremony is conducted to dedicate that stone in memory of the honoree.

“It is important to give the new honoree the same honor that was bestowed on the original 470 at the initial dedication ceremony in 2010,” said Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Claude Cooper, current chairman of the Scroll of Honor Memorial Committee. “All made the same sacrifice and deserve the same honor.”

In order to nominate an alumnus for inclusion on the Scroll of Honor Memorial, please complete the nomination form at SOH.Alumni.Clemson.edu/Nominate.

The 493 honorees represent the diversity of the Clemson Family. Their majors included agronomy, animal husbandry, architecture, business, economics, engineering, finance, forestry, history, horticulture, industrial management, pre-med, textiles, vocational agriculture education and many more.

They were ordinary and exceptional students. A 1916 alumnus killed in World War I was described as “the strongest man on the football team.” Another was “the most popular man in the class of 1935.” One was a four-star athlete in football, basketball, baseball and track.

Others were members of the swimming team, wrestling team, boxing team and soccer team before it was a scholarship sport. Others were cheerleaders and members of the band. Several were Eagle Scouts. One was a member of the rifle team that won the ACC championship. And as you expect, many were members of various student military organizations, such as the Senior Platoon, Pershing Rifles, Scabbard & Blade and Arnold Air Society.

Many left Clemson before graduating to join the military to fight the world wars. Some returned to Clemson to finish their education, but many did not. Many letters and emails have been sent in by family members and friends to document the sacrifices of their loved ones.

In her letter, Emily McCoy Adams (Bostic, N.C.) recounted the story of her cousin, William T. McCoy, who was killed in World War II. She added a postscript that reads, “My husband, James A. Adams, was in the U.S. Navy for 20 years (1940-60), but thank the Good Lord he did not have to give the ultimate sacrifice.”

However, 493 of our alumni did. They are buried in Arlington National Cemetery as well as military cemeteries in Hawaii, France, Germany, Italy and the Philippines. Some were buried at sea. Some will never come home, as they are still missing in action across Europe, Asia and the Pacific.

“Freedom isn’t free!”

The motto of The Clemson Corps is “keeping the tradition alive.” Some of its activities to perpetuate Clemson’s proud military heritage include Military Appreciation Day at football, baseball and basketball games. Flags, 493 of them, are placed around the barrow of the memorial on special days to include Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Military Appreciation Day.

The Clemson Corps also conducts a Memorial Day ceremony at the Scroll of Honor Memorial to help the public honor all Americans who have given the ultimate sacrifice, especially those included on the Scroll of Honor.

“Memorial Day is special for the Clemson University Family, especially for those men and women who served in our armed forces,” said Colonel (retired) Frank Cox, chairman of the Memorial Day Planning Committee. Their valor, patriotism and legacy of service have left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of Clemson people. I am humbled each time I step into the Scroll of Honor Memorial in reflecting on all who have served and died for us.”

Colonel (retired) Ben Skardon, class of 1939, survivor of the Bataan Death March and professor emeritus of English, gave the invocation at the dedication ceremony for the Scroll of Honor Memorial prior to the 2008 football season.

“We are here today to honor those brave and fateful men who lived, served and died so that we might live and serve,” said Skardon during his invocation.

Those 493 Clemson men remembered on the Scroll of Honor Memorial gave their lives in service to our country. Without their sacrifices, we who enjoy the freedoms that they defended might not be afforded the opportunity to serve.

On this Military Appreciation Day, let us not forget the ultimate sacrifice that more than one million members of the armed forces have made in service to our country, especially those 493 alumni of Clemson University.

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