Tuesday, November 8, 2011

We Are ...

Shocked. Dumbfounded. Distraught. Angry. Hurt.

You pick it, all of us who bleed blue and white are feeling it right now. And the Penn St-haters are crowing. On Twitter. On Facebook. On ESPN.com comment threads. Everyone's coming out of the wordwork to bash Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier—and "Penn State."

I'm not going to defend Paterno, Spanier, Mike McQueary, Tim Curley, or Gary Schultz. (Do I actually have to mention I wouldn't defend Jerry Sandusky? No? Good. I thought that would be pretty obvious.) In some cases—Paterno and Spanier—I doubt we'll ever know what they did or did not know. But that won't stop the judging, and maybe that's okay. Perhaps as much fault could lie for what they should have known.

But despite being the University President, Graham Spanier is not Penn State. Despite being the University's paramount icon and having his name etched on the main library, Joe Paterno is not Penn State. Penn State is something different, but common, to the millions of people who have walked its campus and called themselves Lions.

For me, Penn State is hundreds of Four Diamonds families who inspire thousands of students and alumni to do more, ever more. It's learning more on the south side of College Ave. than the north side. (For the non-Penn Staters, College Ave. divides the main downtown of State College, on the south, from the University campus, on the north.) And it's friendships with some of the finest people walking this earth—people whose names you'll never read in the paper, but who do great things in the arts, business, and their communities. People I'm proud to know, who I met in a place that I am proud to call my alma mater.

If heads roll for this scandal—and they will—it is because they have failed not only in their moral and, arguably, legal obligations, but also in their duty to uphold the high honor of dear old State.

For the glory of old State,
For her founders strong and great,
For the future that we wait,
Raise the song, raise the song.

Sing our love and loyalty,
Sing our hopes that, bright and free,
Rest, O Mother dear, with thee,
All with thee, all with thee.

When we stood at childhood's gate,
Shapeless in the hands of fate,
Thou didst mold us, dear old State,
Dear old State, dear old State.

May no act of ours bring shame
To one heart that loves thy name,
May our lives but swell thy fame,
Dear old State, dear old State.

We are.

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