Sep 20, 2021

College of the Ozarks hosts The National Symposium on Patriotic Education, Sept. 16-17

Graphic design major Allison Middleton presents college gifts to Pence and his wife Karen Pence. (Photo by Shann Swift)
Graphic design major Allison Middleton presents college gifts to Pence and his wife Karen Pence. (Photo by Shann Swift)
 Pence addresses Bobcat GOLD cadets during The William S. Knight dedication. (Photo by Shann Swift)
Pence addresses Bobcat GOLD cadets during The William S. Knight dedication. (Photo by Shann Swift)

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — College of the Ozarks hosted Michael R. Pence, 48th vice president of the United States, as the keynote speaker for The National Symposium on Patriotic Education on Friday, Sept. 17. The Symposium was presented by The William S. Knight Center for Patriotic Education.

Thousands registered to view the content digitally from the comfort of their homes and offices across the nation, while students, staff, and faculty attended the primary convocation in The Howell W. Keeter Athletic Complex on the College’s campus. The event opened with a special College of the Ozarks Praise Ensemble, with music coordinated by Gregg Busch, assistant professor of music and theatre.

The purpose of the Symposium was to revive historic American values and pride on the eve of the 250th anniversary of America’s founding.

In his introductory address, College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis emphasized the importance of understanding our history in order to ensure the freedom of future generations.

“Patriotic education is the debt we owe to our history,” Davis said. “As President Ronald Reagan said, ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.’”

Pence addressed the students, challenging them to become informed citizens and encouraging them in their excellent choice of an educational institution.

“We are standing here at Point Lookout, College of the Ozarks, one of the leading institutions of America,” Pence said. “You know that the foundation of America is freedom, and the foundation of freedom is faith. Thank you for stepping up. Thank you for coming to a place like this to become leaders for liberty for the future of America.”

Pence emphasized the importance of developing strong personal values and character.

“The truth is adversity doesn’t create character; adversity reveals character,” Pence said. “When hard times come, and your values and your convictions are challenged, you will be on that day the man or woman you prepared to be on every quiet day. So, grow into men and women of integrity. America is depending on it.”

Grace Carr, senior business management major, expressed her gratitude for the former vice president’s intentionality and honesty in his address to students.

“I’m incredibly grateful to former Vice President Pence and his wife for taking the time to visit our college,” Carr said. “His passion for both patriotism and faith is inspiring. It’s so rare in our world today to have an American leader grounded in both God and country, who is willing to do what it takes to protect the freedoms that we enjoy. I appreciated hearing him speak and am grateful to College of the Ozarks for doing what it takes to raise up Christlike, patriotic Americans.”

Plenary Sessions

The first session was held on Thursday evening, Sept. 16, in the Royal Oak Forum at The Keeter Center. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former White House press secretary, presented Liberty’s Lessons. In Sanders’ presentation, she reinforced the importance of America's heritage, especially individual and religious freedom.

At the second and third plenary sessions, Edward Graham, assistant to the vice president of Programs and Government Relations for Samaritan’s Purse, and President of the Travis Manion Foundation Ryan Manion, discussed Liberty’s Cost, honoring the sacrifices of Veterans and their families.

Dr. Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon and former secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, presented the fourth plenary session, Liberty’s Foundation. He spoke about strengthening free enterprise through hard work.

The William S. Knight Center Dedication

On Friday, Sept. 17, College of the Ozarks officially dedicated The William S. Knight Center for Patriotic Education. Through the Center, the College strives to restore patriotism by teaching future generations the four key pillars of patriotic education: Liberty’s Lessons, Liberty’s Cost, Liberty’s Foundation, and Liberty’s Legacy.

Davis welcomed students, staff, faculty, and donors to the event. His presentation was followed by an address from General Terrence R. Dake, chairman of the board of trustees at College of the Ozarks, who discussed the importance of restoring American values.

Pence made congratulatory remarks, and the three then unveiled the official bronze statue of George Washington, sculpted by James Hall of Nixa, Missouri.

“We follow the news like you do about people tearing down statues, but we choose to build them up,” Davis said.

“We hope to restore the belief that our nation is good and strong, with the underpinning of four key pillars of patriotic education focusing on liberty,” said Marci Linson, vice president for patriotic activities and dean of admissions. “We’ll ensure that students understand liberty has a cost, and freedom isn’t free, by honoring the sacrifices of Veterans and their families. Lastly, we hope to inspire students to be liberty’s legacy by promoting public, civic, and military service.” 

Davis concluded the Symposium with a call to action, inviting support for a congressional resolution to recognize Vietnam Veterans and apologize for the treatment they received upon returning home.

The NSPE is only the beginning of the College’s efforts to energize, encourage, and educate Americans through patriotic education resources.