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“A Memorial for Joe” Will Bring Strangers Together

As was mentioned yesterday, it’s a testament to the world we live in when watching a Ticketmaster loading page is the most nerve-racking experience of the day. At approximately 10: 01 a.m. on Tuesday morning, anxiety turned to disappointment as “Your Wait Time is Less than One Minute” transitioned to “Sorry No Matches Were Found.”

A few more desperate attempts yielded the exact same results. The text messages started to roll in. “Got ’em,” “No luck for me,” and finally, “They sold out.” I slowly came to grips with the fact that I was not going to be inside the Bryce Jordan Center for Joe Paterno’s memorial service, which will start today at 2 p.m.

Around 10:15 Tuesday morning, I sent out a tweet saying that I was unable to get a ticket. Less than three minutes later, I had a direct message from someone who I had never met but still messaged occasionally on Twitter. She had secured a ticket for her mother along with an extra one, and was essentially offering it to me. After a quick follow-up message, I was overjoyed when I read the message: “Drew, I have an extra ticket. It’s yours if you want it.”

From there, we continued to work out a plan. Her mother did not have a printer, so the tickets would be forwarded to me. I would print two, and deliver one to her State College home. At one point in our conversation, she brought up that helping each other is what Penn State is all about. I responded by saying that I thought Joe would be proud right now if he knew what we were doing.

With the final plans completed last night, I will walk into the Bryce Jordan Center this afternoon and take my seat next to a woman who I met for the first time only the night before. Based on the ticketing system, I realize that I am certainly not the only one in this circumstance, and I believe that makes tomorrow even more special.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Penn State family, consisting of Paternos, students, alumni, local residents, former players and coaches, will come together. Other coaches who coached against Paterno in games will also be invited because a friend or supporter of JoePa is a friend of the Penn State family. Like myself, most of us may not know the person next to them or two seats down, but everyone will be there for one reason: To honor the special life of Joseph Vincent Paterno.

Many people that influence our lives including parents, teachers, and coaches preach individualism and being your own person. No disrespect intended towards that sentiment, but I do not believe they were imagining the scene that will materialize inside the Bryce Jordan Center this afternoon.

We all received tickets in different ways. Some went the conventional route via the phone or Ticketmaster, and some had to resort to other ways, but we are all honored to be there. Many who either did not obtain tickets or could not make it to Happy Valley will be watching on television and present in spirit.

We will all come together to honor our legendary coach. We will reflect, we will cry, we may even laugh at some funny stories. We will do it all because Joe brought us together, even if it was just for one more moment.

We Are all Penn State.

 

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About the Author

Drew Balis

Drew is a senior marketing major. This fall, he will be covering Penn State Football for Onward State. He is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and loves THON and Domonic Brown.

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