Clemson puts on incredible display for Military Appreciation Day

For the 30th time, Tigers honor more than 10,000 alumni veterans
Founded as a military school, the institution honored its veterans with a marvelous display
Published: Nov. 12, 2023 at 11:07 PM EST
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CLEMSON, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Not only did Clemson football celebrate a win over Georgia Tech on Saturday, but also its 30th Military Appreciation Day. Veteran’s Day is always very special for Clemson, which was founded in 1889 as a military school.

National Guard Instructor Pilot James Pressley flew a 32,000 pound Chinook helicopter from Greenville to Clemson for the occasion.

“I grew up in Anderson and then got to go do Army things and then come back and work full time,” Pressley said. “To still share it with the general public is kind of unique and cool.”

The public appreciated the military just as much as the game.

“We’re obviously big-time Clemson fans. My wife and I both went to Clemson,” Thomas Peery, a Clemson fan from Simpsonville said. “But, the brave men and women give us this kind of liberty to be out here and enjoy even a rainy day here at Clemson. Just super thankful.”

Clemson graduate and Marine Corps Pilot Elaina Alcocer explained the benefits of serving our country.

“It gives back to you in a lot of ways that you don’t expect and you make a lot of close friends that’ll be your family forever,” Alcocer said. “You’re actually making a notable difference in the community.”

For 81 years, Memorial Stadium has stood as a symbol of our veterans’ sacrifice including the 10,000 Clemson alumni who are veterans. Inside the stadium, walk-on wide receiver Blackmon Huckabee Jr. belted out a beautiful National Anthem.

The crowd went even more wild after noticing the Tigers’ bus had a special escort.

“The guys on that bus, the first bus, they were going crazy because whatever that thing was in front of us was a bad… mama jama,” Head Coach Dabo Swinney said. “Some kind of Jeep with torpedoes on it. That would do a lot of damage. And they were spinning it around and it was really cool.”

The players wore purple jerseys in reverence to the Purple Heart. Clemson celebrated military leaders still with us, and remembered those who have passed. The grandfathers of both Dabo and his wife served in World War II.

“As I told the players, y’all show your appreciation by how you play,” Dabo said during a four-minute speech on the meaning of the day. “Let’s put on a show for them. They’re here for a show, let’s put one on.”

Then he described what he hopes veterans take away from the Tigers’ game.

“Maybe they had a little bit of joy and a little bit of relief, like real, real, real, life issues and challenges,” Swinney said. “Hopefully we were able to do that today.”

Clemson beat Georgia Tech 42-21, and fans will be appreciating our military long after the Tigers win.