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HERO: This Alabamian stormed beach on D-Day carrying the The Auburn Creed

Among the roughly 75,000 Americans who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day in the largest amphibious invasion in history was a 33-year-old Selma, Alabama, native named Ralph Jordan.

Before the war, “Shug,” as he was known, was already beloved at Auburn University for starring in three sports and then becoming the school’s head basketball coach and an assistant in the football program. But his legend had not yet grown to the point where the university would later rename its football stadium in his honor after he became the school’s all-time winningest football coach.

But while Jordan’s reputation at Auburn was still developing, it is clear now that the university — and its famed creed – had already had a profound impact on his life.

The Auburn Creed reads as follows:

I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work.

I believe in education, which gives me the knowledge to work wisely and trains my mind and my hands to work skillfully.

I believe in honesty and truthfulness, without which I cannot win the respect and confidence of my fellow men.

I believe in a sound mind, in a sound body and a spirit that is not afraid, and in clean sports that develop these qualities.

I believe in obedience to law because it protects the rights of all.

I believe in the human touch, which cultivates sympathy with my fellow men and mutual helpfulness and brings happiness for all.

I believe in my Country, because it is a land of freedom and because it is my own home, and that I can best serve that country by “doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with my God.”

And because Auburn men and women believe in these things, I believe in Auburn and love it.

Those words have inspired generations of Auburn students to live out the university’s core values while on campus and beyond. The Creed was published just over four months before Shug Jordan and his comrades stormed the beaches at Normandy, but a copy of it had already made its way to Jordan after a friend of his clipped it out of the student newspaper and mailed it to him.

The Creed touched Jordan so deeply that as he prepared for one of the most significant battles in human history, he made sure he carried a copy of it with him.

Auburn graduate Ben Bartley, who has written extensively about The Auburn Creed, explains how it all went down:

George Petrie wrote The Auburn Creed on November 12, 1943. He was 77. The Plainsman published the “Auburn Student’s Creed” on January 21, 1944. Shug Jordan arrived at Normandy on June 6, 1944 with a copy in his boot or his pocket or hidden elsewhere on his person. An Auburn friend sent him the clipping in the spring of ’44. Look away from your computer or your phone and think about that for a beat, that confluence. Petrie wrote it and then The Plainsman published it and then Shug carried it into occupied France.

(…)

He was 33 at Normandy. He commanded a landing craft. He landed this craft at Utah Beach. That’s where the Nazis tried to kill Shug. They failed, but maybe only just. Shrapnel from an 88 mortar shell punctured his left arm. He bled and bled, the arm useless. He fought onward. He demolished walls, ensured victory.

Then followed four days of Shug prone or propped seated with his soldiers, his countrymen wounded, recovering, not recovering to his left and right, across the aisle…

‘(I believe in)… a spirit that is not afraid… I believe in my country…’

We can imagine him unfolding that grey paper black with the articulation of all he’d left behind, maybe spotted crimson, maybe white at the fold lines, so many times unfolded and refolded in ship bunks and barracks, like reading a puzzle…

76 yrs. ago today, 3,000 American heroes died so that 300 million people could be liberated.

(h/t War Eagle Reader)


(Note: Reposted from 2016)