Something in These Hills
Times when so many things seem to be coming unglued are disquieting times. These are disquieting times.
It always intrigues me how nearly any specific condition of nearly any specific time can find some application in a book that, essentially, was handed down to us by word of mouth through century.
I believe it says somewhere, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.”
My thoughts often wander through these upper South Carolina hills that shelter the University that forms a common bond for many thousands of people who have studied here, or taught here or worked here.
There’s something in these hills that has touched every one of them, something that has rubbed off on them in varying degrees, something that has built within the breasts of all Clemson men and women an enduring spark akin to an eternal pride.
There’s something in these hills. It was here when a handful of fledgling faculty members greeted a relatively small band of 446 students more than 80 years ago. That was shortly after convict labor had completed an administration building and clock tower that still dominate these Blue Ridge foothills with a timelessness and serenity that impart inspiration and strength anew each time they are looked upon.
There’s something in these hills that has endeared itself to an endless procession of administrators, teachers, students, secretaries and workman. Hundreds of names pass through my consciousness, names of people who gave selflessly of themselves to build the institution nestled here and who at one and the same time mined the priceless something the hills contain and returned to them still more of it.
I have my names and I see once more the faces and feel again the beloved personalities that go with them. If you will but close your eyes and drift awhile you too will recall the names and faces and personalities of those who meant the most to you while the privilege of being among them was yours.
There’s something in these hills and from them we have drawn the power to transcend the stresses and strains that tug away to make things come unglued in these disquieting times, the power to cut through such modern concepts – and such modern facts – as generation gaps, communication gaps and ideological gaps.
Where is the generation gap when an alumnus who spent four years in these hills before the turn of the century says, “Next to my church and my home, I love Clemson University beyond all other institutions this side of heaven,” and when a graduate-to-be says, “Excepting only my parents, Clemson has meant more to me and done more for me than anything that has touched my life.”
There’s something in these hills that has bound together a man of over ninety and a boy under twenty, something that has given them a common ground on which to stand and a start toward bridging, and eliminating, and gap or any stress or any strain that might try to make unglued whatever they seek for themselves as they move out of these hills into the mountains, the plains, the oceans, the forests, the skies and the storms of life.
We have all drawn from these hills something to suggest to youth that those over thirty can be trusted and to indicate to those over thirty that the qualities of youth are as sound today as they ever were.
There is something in these hills that brings together and binds together and holds together men and women of all persuasions, of all heights, sizes, weights, and cultural backgrounds – something that cuts across every difference, spans every gap, penetrates every wall – something that makes a man or a woman stand taller, feel better and say with a high pride to all within earshot, “I went to Clemson.”
There is something in these hills that you and I can’t define and others can’t understand. A wave of warmth always surges through me when “outsiders” say, “I don’t know what it is about you Clemson people, but your undying love for Clemson is admired by everyone I know.”
There’s something in these hills and I suspect that’s what it is – the ability of an institution through the unending dedication and greatness of its people – its administration, its faculty, its staff, its students and alumni – to impart to all it touches a respect, an admiration, an affection that stands firm in disquieting times when things around it give impressions of coming unglued.
Yes, there’s something in these hills where the Blue Ridge yawns its greatness.
Joe Sherman, Class of ’34