Forty-five years ago, my mother and father gave me a graduation present. This present served as a symbol to remind me of the sacrifices they made to give me my college education. The gift was a ring that is similar to one many of you wear today. This ring is a symbol that recognizes us as graduates of Clemson University.
There are other things about this ring that have served to guide me since graduation. Two rifles remind me of the discipline military training requires and how vital self-discipline is for success in life. A star between those rifles calls for me to look up to heaven for the guidance that is so important to living the kind of life that is a great one to have. The Tiger brings sports to mind and the necessity to learn teamwork and know how to win and lose with honor. Leaders have worn sabers throughout history. These two sabers have helped me remember to set my sights for leadership whenever possible.
Then there is the palmetto tree in the center of the ring. Just as tough palmetto logs at Fort Moultrie repulsed cannonballs, I have been reminded to do my best to stand up to those cannonballs in life that may come my way. The “C” that encloses the palmetto tree, of course, stands for Clemson. But it also stands for character. One’s character must always remain as flawless as is humanly possible.
My ring is a never-ending circle that has been a symbol of constant love and support from a wonderful family that is second to none.
– R. Thornwell Dunlap, Jr. ‘53