Thursday, January 26, 2012

Reclaiming My School Pride

I've never been a rah-rah Penn State person. I don't like football. I own one Penn State sweatshirt and one Penn State t-shirt, purchased not from a store on College Avenue, but from the clearance rack at Target. I went to football games during college, but usually left at half-time (my dad would have disowned me if I did not get season tickets). I don't get what the big deal is about Creamery ice cream. Obviously I'm not the type who claims to bleed blue and white.

But yesterday afternoon, as Joe Paterno's funeral procession passed down Curtin Road, I was never prouder to be a Penn Stater. It was almost like a parade atmosphere during the nearly two hours I waited outside with thousands of other students, alumni, faculty and staff. But as soon as the crowd saw the flashing lights of the cars leading the motorcade, silence fell. With helicopters buzzing overhead, reminding us that more than our local community was mourning this great man, we watched the cars and buses pass. Sue rode in Joe's seat on the team bus, with his grandchildren waving from the back. It was over in minutes, and then everyone went their separate ways, contemplating, I'm sure, what we had just experienced.

I have not published a blog post in six months, first because life got in the way, and then because I didn't want to write my usual blather when my community was in turmoil. I feel very strongly that those of us who currently live in State College have experienced the events of the past 2.5 months differently than anyone else. No offense to Penn State alumni and fans who live elsewhere--it's just that living here means we have experienced everything on a whole other level. We have been criticized. We have been misunderstood. We have had our town overtaken by media who could never understand what it means to be a Penn Stater.

There are some bad people out there in the world, this town included. But they do not represent Penn State as a whole. The people lining the streets yesterday represent Penn State. And I was proud to be one of them.