Clemson World War II statue

The Clemson Class of 1944's World War II Memorial statue in front of Mell Hall. Frank Wooten/staff

Friday is Veterans Day.

Today is Military Appreciation Day in Clemson.

Today is Homecoming day at The Citadel, also known as the Military College of South Carolina.

Sunday is the Veterans Day Parade in downtown Charleston. Hosted by the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, it will feature military units, floats and vintage vehicles.

The parade begins at 2 p.m. on the corner of East Bay and Market streets. It will get off to a soaring start with a C-17 flyover by Joint Base Charleston’s 437th Airlift Wing, then proceed south on East Bay, turn right on Broad and end at Colonial Lake.

The Citadel delivered an inspiring Military Appreciation Day on Sept. 10, when Bulldogs fans appreciated a 19-14 victory over Furman that night at Johnson Hagood Stadium. The school's Regimental Band played the songs of our five armed services — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard.

There will be considerable military flavor again at today’s Homecoming game at Johnson Hagood as The Citadel, still unbeaten, plays Samford in a high-stakes Southern Conference showdown.

The Tiger Band will play military tunes today, too, in Death Valley as Clemson.

Unfortunately, though, while Clemson honors Americans in military uniform past and present today, the unbeaten Tigers will wear garish purple jerseys and pants against the Orange of Syracuse.

Where the Tigers play

Dubious football fashion choices aside, Clemson will put on a heck of a Military Appreciation Day show. From a school release:

“Pledge of Allegiance by Army ROTC alumni. Game Ball parachuted in by Army Special Forces. Army and Air Force Cadet Commanders and Marine Candidate will dot the 'i' when the band spells out Tigers. Flyover by A-10 Thunderbolt IIs assigned to the 74th Fighter Squadron from Moody Air Force Base.”

And: “Marine Lt. Gen. Glenn M. Walters will award purple hearts to Cpls. Travis Evans and Alex Chapman. Evans, who now is an Easley police officer, was wounded in 2010 in Marjeh, Afghanistan, by an improvised explosive device. This is his second Purple Heart. Chapman, who lives in Pacolet and attends USC-Union, was wounded by an IED in 2011 in Afghanistan. Derick Carver, an Army veteran who lost his leg in an IED blast in Afghanistan, will be recognized as The Hero of the Game during the first quarter, second timeout. At halftime, the Clemson Rangers will perform a Fallen Soldier salute in the East End Zone. The Pershing Rifles will perform a 21-gun salute. The halftime show will end with the playing of ‘Taps.’ ”

Of course, you shouldn’t wait for Military Appreciation Day, Veterans Day, Carolina Day, Independence Day, Pearl Harbor Day or D-Day to appreciate our military.

Ample reminders of the gratitude you should feel are in plain daily local view, including at Joint Base Charleston. We’ve even got an aircraft carrier (the Yorktown), the Medal of Honor Museum, a Cold War Memorial and the Vietnam Experience Exhibit at Patriots Point.

Meanwhile, up at Clemson, which used to be a military school, there are numerous monuments to veterans.

But the one this Clemson grad finds most inspiring — and humbling — is a statue of two soldiers in front of Mell Hall.

How to say thanks

Commissioned by the Class of 1944 for its 50th anniversary, the statue was dedicated a year before that milestone (1994 for you non-math majors) on Feb. 9, 1993. That way, more members of the class were still alive to see it.

Sculpted by T.J. Dixon and James Nelson and cast in bronze, the haunting memorial shows two soldiers, seated back to back. One, without a helmet, appears near or maybe even in tears. The other, with a helmet, looks merely exhausted.

Yet for the most powerful punch, look hard at the 53 names listed on two rows beneath those men. Those are the members of the Clemson Class of ’44 men killed in history’s deadliest (so far) war.

These other words between those rows also echo through time:

“AND THEN THERE WAS WAR. We were just boys, mere boys, and then there was war and half of us were dead or wounded.”

All of us, especially the many of us who never served in the armed forces, should keep in mind what happens when there is war, especially when pondering when, where, how and why to put our military men — and increasingly women — into harm’s way.

And if you want to show your appreciation to our warriors, don’t just show up for Military Appreciation Day football games and Veterans Day parades.

Show up to vote on Election Day.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.