The Purple Gift – Peeling Back the Layers of Daniel Rodriguez’s Story #storytelling

I wish I was there…I so wish I was able to make it. My father, a Vietnam Veteran who served on the USS Kittyhawk in the Gulf of Tonkin, flew in from Utah and was able to witness this event.

It was a purple kind of day. Yep…since Clemson’s traditional colors are orange and purple…it was a purple kind of day. “Purple Out” was the call to fans, asking everyone to wear all purple in honor of Military Heritage Day. Clemson has a long traditional of military dating back to it’s origins.

Here is the context of the story:
In 1893, Clemson opened as an all-male military school, rivaling the South Carolina Military Academy (now know as the Citadel). Clemson graduated 446 cadets in 1896 and the Citadel was able to award it’s first bachelor of science degree to it’s graduates in 1900. There is a rich traditional of competition among these two military based schools.

CBS Sports writes about Saturday:
Purple has a rich tradition at Clemson and has become even more present with the addition of Daniel Rodriguez to the roster.

“Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez recorded his first career touchdown in the Tigers’ 52-6 win against Citadel on Saturday. The 25-year-old Purple Heart recipient has mostly played special teams this season, but got an opporutnity to score on a fly sweep from Cole Stoudt.

Rodriguez was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal after he was wounded in 2009 during the Battle of Kamdesh. After tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rodriguez joined the team in 2012 thanks to an NCAA waiver. He recorded three receptions last season and entered Saturday’s game with five catches on the year.”

Saluting Daniel Rodriguez:
This purple day was an intersection of many story-lines. As these layers, these story-lines became one…the emotion was overwhelming. What makes a stadium cheer like they won the national championship in the fourth quarter when a reserve wide receiver scores a touchdown…especially when Clemson is up 40+ points.

What brings tears to the eyes of those who served when this reserve wide receiver spikes the ball and is lifted in the air by his team mates?

What is it that gives us chills when this wide receiver is more that a reserve…but a leader among leaders.

What gives you such pride to know that Daniel Rodriguez scored, walked into the end zone, that sacred carpet of freedom that so few have experienced in college football. Maybe this sacred carpet he enjoyed on this 4th down play was the very carpet of freedom his service, and the service of many others in the stadium that day, has provided for us to enjoy and entertain.

This moment of glory was more than just a touchdown. It is proof that someone can overcome all the odds, all the hurdles, and not only lead a country into a time of peace, but lead a team, a fan base, a state, and a college football nation into a moment of pure joy. What sits behind that joy? Hmm…maybe it is the knowledge we all can overcome the odds to find our moment of glory.

Thank you Daniel Rodriguez for reminding us what it means to serve our great country. Thank you for reminding Clemson and College Football that life is more than what transpires on Saturday’s…that it is this kindred time when we can all come together and feel a little more whole when you walked across that goal line.

I feel honored to know that you wore that purple uniform, leading us with your purple heart of service.

Here is the video from his touchdown.

* The picture above was taken by Marjorie Maxon of Marjorie Maxon Photography.