A Night Remembering Joe Paterno
Sunday night marked an all too familiar scene. For the third time in a span of 72 days, the Penn State community gathered for a candle light vigil. This vigil was to honor one of their fallen, one of my fallen. Over 5,000 of my fellow students, alumni, and fans gathered on Old Main lawn with only a few hours notice. It was a time where memories were shared and tears were wept.
“They say that there’s a time for everything, a time to live, a time to die, a time for joy, a time for sorrow, for pain, and for triumph,” said senior QB Shane McGregor.
All of those feelings were present during last night’s frigid Pennsylvania evening vigil. It was the time to feel pain and sorrow for our legend lost; however, it was also time to remember the joy and triumph of his numerous achievements. I, like many, struggled to stay composed when the Old Main Bell rang at 8 o’clock (This picture didn’t help).
Monday was a day that we all feared was looming, but didn’t want to admit. We were scared to think what a society without Joe Paterno would be like. Well, friends, alumni, and fans, today, January 23rd, marks the first day of that post-Joe Paterno world.
When the vigil ended, even though I barely had any sensation left in my extremities, I decided to walk up to the statue with a friend. It didn’t matter how cold I was. I owed that man another few minutes of time. Thousands of others agreed. Expectedly, it was already very crowded when I arrived. I spent about 15 minutes trying to get a good view of the scene.
Finally I found a spot, a vantage point that offered a breathtaking image that will forever be etched into my memory. I spent a half an hour at that exact spot. I didn’t move. There was no reason to move. I was with Joe and I was with Penn Staters; there was no other place on Earth I would have rather been. Furthermore, when I looked up towards the sky, there was a white glow hovering above Beaver Stadium. Talk about a surreal feeling. It was a, dare I say, “heavenly” atmosphere.
Most of the people looking on at the bronze statue have had no physical interactions with Joe, but that didn’t matter. You didn’t need to meet him to know him. That’s the kind of guy he was. He affected so many by saying so little. While we eventually come to grips that his mortal being has passed, his tenderness, generosity, humbleness, and, most importantly, his legacy will not be forgotten. Joe Paterno forever will live through his Penn State family of over a half a million strong.
With that thought in mind, maybe the post-Joe world won’t be so bad after all.
Always remember, never forget, the man, the father, the grandfather, the friend, the teacher, the philanthropist, the coach who we will always know as… Joe Paterno.
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