The College of the Ozarks – a private, Christian college near Branson, Missouri – has a new mandatory course it unveiled this week called Patriotic Education and Fitness.
The school said it’s designed to encourage students’ understanding of America’s heritage, the nation’s civic responsibilities, love of country and willingness to defend it.
“This is about understanding the military. We will require everyone to take the class, and everyone will benefit from their exposure to military science, in and out of the classroom,” said school president Jerry C. Davis in a statement. “We have seen a decrease in the understanding of our military and the important role it plays in our democracy. We will do our part to correct this.”
The four-credit hour course involves more than just reading about America’s values or learning basic flag protocol. It also teaches military skills like pistol and rifle markmanship, map reading and land navigation – even Army rappelling techniques.
The class, which started as a pilot program last year, comes as the nation engages in renewed debate about patriotism and protests. Several NFL players have knelt during the playing of the National Anthem to protest racism and police brutality. President Trump and many others consider such protests unpatriotic. Trump wants the NFL to force players to stand for the anthem.