Honoring the real heroes

All About Ben
By Ben Robinson

The Upstate of South Carolina seems to be divided into two different schools of thought: Clemson fans and University of South Carolina fans. It’s been going on for more than a century and will likely continue another 100 years.

I was actually a Gamecock fan growing up, and I vowed to remain that even after I enrolled at Clemson University for my freshman year. But I by chance met one of the Clemson University cheerleaders, one who was destined to wear the crown of Miss South Carolina a couple of years later, at a convenience store in Clemson one morning before a Tiger home game, and she cleverly convinced me I should pull for the Tigers.

She had a small carton of chocolate milk and was in line in front of me. She turned and smiled, and said “Good morning. How are you?”

I meant to use on of those cliches that I had heard my brother Thom use many times, like “Fair to partly cloudy.”

But instead I mumbled “Good,” then quietly broke into a giggle.

She smiled, which I thought meant she wanted to bear my children, but probably meant “Oh no, I’ve found another idiot.”

“It’ll be a tough game today, won’t it,” she said.

“Yeah,” I said, again giggling slightly.

“Be sure to pull for those Tigers today!” she said.

“OK,” I said. So I have to pull for Clemson or risk being unfaithful to this young (at the time at least) lady.

Over the years, I came to realize that many quality people were involved with both programs. George Rogers, who led the Gamecocks as he earned the school’s first Heisman trophy, is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. There have also been a lot of people lacking quality who have played for each team. So what makes a person is what is in their hearts, not necessarily what’s on their jersey.

The truth is that both schools have produced quality graduates, and therefore each has done its share of honorable acts. And graduates of each school, and citizens of South Carolina in general, should be proud of this and support the state’s two largest homes of higher education for this.

One example of this is that Clemson has invited Daniel Rodriguez, a veteran of the war with Iraq, to join the Tiger football team.
Rodriguez grew up dreaming of being a hero on the football field, and after serving his country overseas, he got the chance to make his dream come true, thanks to coach Dabo Swinney.

Saturday is military appreciation day at Clemson, so Rodriguez will be carrying an American Flag down the hill as he runs with the Clemson team at the beginning of the game.

At halftime, the bands from each school will perform together, playing patriotic tunes and such. Sometime in the third quarter, checks will be presented to the Wounded Warrior program, which cares for those injured during military actions, and Honor Flight, which pays for WWII veterans to visit Washington and see the tributes and memorials there.
So no matter which team you pull for, you should applaud the folks who inspired this tribute. More than likely, USC has a similar tribute set for this season, but they failed to invite me.

Hopefully fans across the state will join together Saturday to pay tribute to the real heroes of the world.