POINT LOOKOUT, Mo. — An evangelical Christian college in Missouri is now requiring freshman to take a class aimed at encouraging patriotism.
The College of the Ozarks has unveiled a military science class called Patriotic Education and Fitness. The course aims to educate students on modern military customs, U.S. politics and flag protocol and procedures. It will also teach rifle marksmanship, map reading, land navigation and rope knotting.
The college held an event Monday to introduce the new course.
"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," said Terrence Dake, a board of trustees member for the college and retired general with the U.S. Marine Corps.
College President Jerry Davis said he believes "understanding the military now is more important than ever because we have 99 percent of the population being defended by 1 percent, who are in uniform. We should be more intentional about patriotic education, and from our point of view that needs to occur from kindergarten all the way through college."
The required class builds camaraderie among students, according to Talan Saylor, a freshman at the college.
"We all go through kind of the same thing, so going through a patriotic class where we are learning about our country and fostering a love for that country together is really special," he said.
The move comes amid a backdrop of some U.S. athletes protesting racial injustice by taking a knee during the national anthem. The college announced last month that its teams won't compete against other teams whose players don't stand for the anthem.
"We want to make it clear that we are not going to participate in a game where we think disrespect for the national anthem or the flag is being displayed," Davis said. "I don't think it's a partisan issue. It's an American issue, how we feel about our country."