A private college in Point Lookout, Missouri now requires its freshman students to take a class aimed at boosting patriotism.
The College of the Ozarks – an evangelical Christian school – on Monday conducted an event introducing the new course.
The military science class is called Patriotic Education and Fitness, and it intends on educating students about modern military customs, U.S. politics and flag protocol and procedures.
The course will also teach students about land navigation, map reading, rope knotting and rifle marksmanship.
“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,” College President Jerry Davis said Wednesday.
“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,” he added.
Terrence Dake, a board of trustees member for the college and retired Marine Corps. general, praised the course’s potential for improving leadership.
“I really think 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,” he said.
The college’s move comes as scores of American athletes across several sports kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in the U.S.
The school announced last month that its teams will not compete against other schools’ squads whose players do not stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“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 Wednesday.
“I don’t think it’s a partisan issue,” he added of the school’s stance. “It’s an American issue, how we feel about our country.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.