The loud, constant roar was mesmerizing. The humidity soaked my clothes as the sun baked the 110,077 people around me. I could see nothing but white in every direction. It smelled like home. A gentle tingling came over my body and tears came to my eyes as those around me stood, lips poised and ready to belt out the words I have sung many times:
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 shameTo one heart that loves thy name,May our lives but swell thy fame,Dear old State, dear old State.
I watched as my two oldest children, donned in white football jerseys and blue paw prints on their cheeks sang along with the words on the scoreboard. Their first Penn State Football Game. I clutched the hand of my college sweetheart as we breathed deeply and counted our blessings. It was a record crowd. The first full stadium “white-out” in Penn State history. We trounced Notre Dame 31-10! In Penn State-ese this was sheer perfection. We are your typical Penn State family. Our first cat’s name was Nittany, we had a blue and white color scheme in our first home and I have had the Fight Song as my ring tone for some time now. By the tender age of two if our children heard the words “We are…” they would appropriately respond with, “Penn State!” This may seem atypical to those who do not share in our Lion history; some may even feel it is a bit freakish. We have heard it all. People have laughed as they accused us of brainwashing or forcing our children to bleed blue and white. Most Pennstaters will tell you, that’s not what it’s about. It is about honor, loyalty and integrity. It is a love for something that made you who you are at this very moment in time. It is about truly knowing how to live. It’s about knowing when to be proud and knowing when to back down. It’s knowing the difference between friendly banter and “talking smack.” It’s about being respectful to those around you and helping those in need. It is a sense of brotherhood that is sometimes stronger than family. Honestly, I don’t believe my children need to attend Penn State to make their life complete. My hopes and dreams for them surpass something as trivial as where they spend their college years. But I do hope that they find the direction they seek, the passion they crave and the drive that will positively affect their lives and the lives of those around them. It would be foolish to believe that only one university can a hero make. No matter what their future brings as far as their post-high school choices, I can be sure that because of our college experience, we have laid the foundation we learned at Main Campus. Honor, loyalty and integrity. If they do it wearing blue and white than that is just icing on the cake. Whether you went to a small school or a large university, whether you left high school and entered the workforce or headed directly to the military, whether you are a survivor of something ugly or have had a somewhat spoiled existence. Live your life with honor, loyalty and integrity in the forefront and you will always come out on top. Our children’s eyes were opened to a small portion of this testimony this weekend and for that I am thankful. As I kissed their sun-kissed, paw-printed cheeks tonight I prayed they will be positive members of society and precious blessings in the lives of others no matter whose colors they wear.