The Texas A&M Aggies-University of Texas Longhorns rivalry is a storied, complex anthropological phenomenon that divides people along geographical, economic, social, and cultural lines. As a non-native Texan, I tend to steer clear of having an opinion about the rivalry. My only opinion about college football is if Clemson is playing, then I want them to win. Unless the Gamecocks are playing. I root against the Chickens. But, otherwise, I don’t really follow college football much.
Yesterday, as I saw Facebook posts about the maroon wall that surrounded the funeral of Lt. Colonel Roy Tisdale, my first thought was, “Gig ‘em, Aggies! Well done.” Like A&M, my alma mater, Clemson, has a long military tradition, which survives through ROTC programs. One of my college friends just retired from a 20-year career in the Air Force. His education was made possible through ROTC scholarships. Yesterday, I met a Marine stationed at the US consulate who is using the opportunity to finish his education. Education is the pathway to a better life, and for many people that path starts with the military.
That anyone would protest the funeral of an US service member is abhorrent. That they would do that the day after the US celebrated its freedom from tyranny, a freedom won with the blood of military men and women, is disgusting. But, that 600 Aggies stood up to those protesters is cause for celebration. That maroon wall is a symbol of hope and respect for those who sacrifice so much to ensure American freedoms, no matter where we are.
Yesterday, I attended a 4th of July picnic at the US consulate. This is my first 4th of July in India, and the Marines at the consulate made sure it was a good one. For that, I am grateful. The picnic featured typical 4th of July fare: hamburgers (probably mutton not beef), sausages, potato salad, chips, dips, and pies. We even had a pie-eating contest. It was great to get together with other Americans. Many of us have been in India only a short time, and it is great to learn how other people are handling the transition. Being outside the US on our country’s birthday makes you realize how many freedoms we enjoy, including being able to live where and how we want. Not everyone gets that opportunity. So, to Lt. Col. Tisdale and those who serve: thank you for all you do. To those 600 Aggies who stood in sweltering heat to protect the Lt. Col.’s funeral: Gig ‘em.