Sacred Soil of Bowman Field
James F. Barker, Pres.
April 6, 2000

There is something in the soil of Bowman Field.
In this soil are the nutrients that support the life of the
grass grown here, but there is more to it than that.
The soil on Bowman Field also has the nutrients that
build character, responsibility, courage and teamwork
in the lives and hearts of Clemson students.

I believe it has something to do with the drama of Clemson being acted out on this soil. This piece of
ground has seen many lives and uses. Even before there was a Clemson University, this piece of earth
was the home of the Cherokee Indians who gave us a system of government so clear that it helped
shape the U.S. government we enjoy today. They also named our mountains
"The Great Blue Hills of God."

This piece of earth, or nearby, marked the place where the first American died defending our country in
the Revolutionary War, a Jewish soldier named Francis Salvidor. This piece of earth was part of the
farm of John C. Calhoun and Thomas Green Clemson. It produced crops of corn and cotton that
supported the farm.

This piece of earth was the home of Clemson College's first football, baseball and basketball teams.
Clemson's athletic energy and competitive spirit were born on this piece of ground. Clemson's Cadet
Corps proudly paraded on this soil in our lifetime as an all-military school.

Three Congressional Medal of Honor winners have marched on this field. When you walk on Bowman
Field, you walk in their footsteps as well as the footsteps of Cherokees, the Jewish American hero, the
African American farm workers, the athletic teams, the Clemson Cadet Corps and many ROTC units
across the generations.

It also serves as a "green beach" on sunny days and the perfect place for the union of town and campus
for special events like Clemson's Pass in Review to honor Clemson's military heritage. What followed
last spring's Pass in Review is a perfect example of how important this piece of ground is and how it
reflects the Clemson tradition.

Part of the ceremony was the announcement of the Air Force ROTC recipient of the Kevin N. Earnest
Leadership Award. The scholarship honors the memory of the 1988 alumnus and Air Force captain who
was killed while serving as commander of the presidential support plane that crashed in 1996. Kevin
Earnest's father, Zellie G. Earnest, who was in attendance at the Pass in Review, reported something
that best illustrates the hallowed sense of Bowman Field. He said that after the ceremony, he heard a
loud "Sir!" He turned to find a young African American cadet facing him and standing at full attention.
The Clemson cadet saluted him saying, "Sir, this is for your son!" then disappeared into the crowd.

The father said little in his life has touched him as much as that single salute. Such a thoughtful, nearly
automatic act of respect from one cadet to the father of an earlier one epitomizes the sense of timeless
connection Bowman Field holds for Clemson.
Truly this is sacred ground.

Published with the express consent of Clemson University and President James F. Barker


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