Davis to bring perspective from decade-long patriotic program at C of O
POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — Today, the White House announced the appointment of College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis to the President’s Advisory 1776 Commission, a group that will promote patriotic education across America. Those appointed will serve two-year terms.
An executive order issued on Nov. 2, 2020, called for the Commission to be formed.
“We must reinforce American ideals and values at this critical time in history,” Davis said. “Some in our nation seek to erase any distinct sense of American identity or American Exceptionalism from our hearts, minds, and history books. As America heads towards its 250th anniversary in 2026, Ronald Reagan’s prophetic statement still rings true: ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.’ Without patriotic education, historic American values and virtues will cease to exist in America’s youth.”
Davis has overseen more than a decade of focused patriotic education at College of the Ozarks. In 2009, the Patriotic Education Travel Program was instituted, which has enabled more than 155 Veterans and 361 students to travel to battle sites where the Veterans served (Normandy, N. Africa, Italy, Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the Philippines, Korea, and four trips to Vietnam).
In September, College of the Ozarks announced the establishment of The William S. Knight Center for Patriotic Education on its campus, built by its staff and students, with completion slated for 2021. The Center was founded in order to take the College’s tested patriotic education programs to a national stage and support the civic education of American youth through advocacy and digital resources. It will house the patriotic education classes, attended by all college students, as well as a variety of programs to foster good citizenship for students and the general public.
The Center is a physical embodiment of the patriotic goal of the College, which was established in 1973: to encourage an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibilities, love of country, and the willingness to defend it.
“The patriotic goal for the College was established nearly 50 years ago, and we remain laser-focused on patriotic education as a key to fulfilling our vision of developing students of Christ-like character who are well-educated, hardworking, and patriotic,” Davis said. “Forty-three years as a college president gives one perspective on many things, including shifts in American culture and ideology.”
Over the course of his 43-year career as a college president (one of the longest in higher education), Davis has returned two institutions to their historic missions, despite significant financial and organizational challenges. Davis has received many personal and institutional awards for his service and leadership in the realm of higher education. He has served two terms as president of the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities and in 2014 was designated as an “Icon of Education” by Ingram’s, the Kansas City business magazine. For many years, he has served as a trustee or advisor of the Marine Military Academy and has been a featured speaker at the United States Air Force Academy and the United States Military Academy at West Point. In 2004, Davis received the Missourian Award, one of the state’s highest honors.
Davis and College of the Ozarks have received many other recognitions, such as the 2015 National Freedom Award, the highest honor given by the United States Department of Defense to employers for support of National Guard and Reserve employees. Under his watchful eye, College of the Ozarks has been noted for its academic excellence, character development, and affordability by several national publications including The Princeton Review Best 373 Colleges, The New York Times, USA Today, Forbes, and Money Magazine. The College has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and on FOX News Network, CBS, ABC, and various national radio networks. U.S. News & World Report has ranked College of the Ozarks a top college in the Midwest since 1989.
For the names of the additional members of the 1776 Commission, visit the following link to the White House announcement: https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/presidential-actions/president-donald-j-trump-announces-intent-appoint-individuals-key-administration-posts-121820/
For the 1776 Commission Report, visit the following link: https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/The-Presidents-Advisory-1776-Commission-Final-Report.pdf
More about the Executive Order on Establishing the President’s Advisory 1776 Commission
The executive order, issued by United States President Donald J. Trump, states the following:
“Without our common faith in the equal right of every individual American to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, authoritarian visions of government and society could become increasingly alluring alternatives to self-government based on the consent of the people. Thus it is necessary to provide America’s young people access to what is genuinely inspiring and unifying in our history, as well as to the lessons imparted by the American experience of overcoming great national challenges. This is what makes possible the informed and honest patriotism that is essential for a successful republic.
“A restoration of American education grounded in the principles of our founding that is accurate, honest, unifying, inspiring, and ennobling must ultimately succeed at the local level. Parents and local school boards must be empowered to achieve greater choice and variety in curriculum at the State and local levels.”
During a speech at the White House History Conference on Sept. 17, the president provided further explanation of the driving motivations behind the establishment of the new commission.
“Our mission is to defend the legacy of America’s founding, the virtue of America’s heroes, and the nobility of the American character,” Trump said. “The only path to national unity is through our shared identity as Americans. That is why it is so urgent that we finally restore patriotic education to our schools. Under our leadership, the National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a grant to support the development of a pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history.
“From Washington to Lincoln, from Jefferson to King, America has been home to some of the most incredible people who have ever lived. With the help of everyone here today, the legacy of 1776 will never be erased. Our heroes will never be forgotten. Our youth will be taught to love America with all of their heart and all of their soul. We will save this cherished inheritance for our children, for their children, and for every generation to come.”
More about the College of the Ozarks patriotic goal
The patriotic goal of College of the Ozarks is expressed in many ways, including travel opportunities, frequent interaction with Veterans, and academic programs. The Patriotic Education Travel Program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students to accompany Veterans back to the battlefields across the globe. The program’s mission is to educate students about the sacrifice of American soldiers.
In June 2019, students traveled to Normandy as part of the services commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day in World War II. In the fall of 2019, the College sent more than 150 students to experience the nation’s capital as part of the inaugural CitizenTrip®. The trip is part of the patriotic curriculum at the College.
“The College is pleased to take a leadership role in making sure our students visit the nation’s capital, study our participatory form of government, and learn to honor American heritage,” Davis said. “Young people do not inherit knowledge of our exceptional country and its foundational principles; these things must be taught.”
Two unique courses serve as bookends to the students’ patriotic education at the College. Freshmen take a first course, Patriotic Education 103, which includes military science, civics, American history and government, current events, and the importance of the American economic system (capitalism). Seniors take a second course, which is the CitizenTrip® experience.
The College’s Bobcat Gold Program provides students with the opportunity to serve as leaders in part-time or full-time military careers with the Missouri National Guard.
Patriots Park at College of the Ozarks encompasses Veterans Grove and other memorials built by the College to honor those who have served and sacrificed for our country. The completion of Patriots Park was made possible by the final installation of The Global War on Terrorism Memorial, dedicated April 24, 2019. Patriots Park is home to The Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Missouri Gold Star Families Memorial, the Greatest Generation Plaza, and The Korean War Memorial. Patriots Park also includes Veterans Grove, which consists of nearly 150 sugar maple trees that honor Veterans who have traveled with the College as part of the Patriotic Education Travel Program. The ‘Lest We Forget’ 9-11 Memorial stands next to the College’s fire department.
The addition of Patriots Park to the College campus has impacted the region and the state of Missouri. Local and regional media outlets have covered the development of the park and have helped bring awareness of this special place where Veterans, family members, and active servicemen and women come to pray, reflect, and remember. More than 10,000 people have attended the dedication services for these memorials, and more than 1,500 people come throughout the year to hold services and pay homage to all who have served.