College of the Ozarks in Missouri isn’t technically a military academy, but that isn’t stopping it from requiring its students to be good patriots. All freshmen will be required to take a course entitled “Patriotic Education and Fitness,” which covers everything from learning to respect the flag to marksmanship.
The university, a private Christian liberal arts school, is a small institution nestled in the scenic hills of rural Point Lookout. In the 2017-18 school year, it welcomed only 280 freshmen, but President Jerry Davis made the school’s mission clear during his convocation to the students, saying in prayer, “Today we acknowledge those standing before us for the idea that one day, they’ll assume positions of leadership that our country very much needs.”
Davis told the Springfield News-Leader that the course is aimed at correcting astray youth, explaining, “If we don’t pay attention to this type of education, there is a danger that within a few generations, we’ll have a population that doesn’t understand its own county or believe that anything is worth fighting for.”
On Monday, the school held an event to introduce the new course, during which retired USMC General Terrence Dake, who sits on the board of trustees, stated, “I really think that if you give a person the tools of an education, the patriotic yearnings inside of themselves and the leadership tools that can be taught, they will be leaders,” The Kansas City Star reports. And at College of the Ozarks, patriotism is more than a yearning — in September, the university announced that it won’t even compete athletically against teams who do not stand during the national anthem.
“Patriotic Education and Fitness” is a military science course, according to the university’s catalog. The official description claims that it’s “designed to support the College’s patriotic mission by encouraging an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibilities, love of country and willingness to defend it.”