State College–How Will my Hometown be Remembered?

I hadn’t watched the news for more than a week when a Swedish gentleman, who heard me say I was from State College, couldn’t keep himself from telling me the news. He was following the Paterno debacle quite closely and come to find out, other Swedes are too. You would think with everything going on in the world this wouldn’t be a leading story, but it is. I suppose, in part, because it never ends…first the victims and the court case, now the sanctions and the taking down of an icon, not to mention the emails and reports…it goes on and on.

But I have to wonder, if the Swedes are so tuned into this story, does that indicate this tragedy runs deeper in the collective conscious of us all? And why is it that this tragedy is so different from all the other terrible things we hear of happening? My guess is that it’s because the way the events unfolded—the time span, the hiding of the truth by people who were thought to be truthful, the fact that so many victim’s were violated and their families and friends hurt. This case didn’t just indict Sandusky; in a very real way, it indicted an entire university who enabled him. What a frightening reality!

But here’s the thing…I grew up in State College, I went to High School and graduated with Kara Sandusky—a lovely person who is still one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet—so I can understand why this is so confusing for people, why it’s hard to believe that things weren’t the way we thought they were in Happy Valley. The folks in Centre County are understandably having a hard time coming to grips with the reality of Joe Paterno’s statue being removed from the pedestal where his bronze (and he) stood on for so many years.

While none of these sanctions can change what happened, (or unfortunately prevent people from hurting people again), I am glad to see that measures have been taken and a warning, not just in words but in action, has been sounded to every other university and institute of learning—protect the victim. The downside to these sanctions is that they will likely create new victims; the people who live in the community and depend on the university for their business.

It’s a lot to make sense of…a town to lose their hometown hero Paterno along with the “idea” of who we were, and what we stood for. It’s hard to imagine that we could ever recover…and yet, I believe Penn State can come back even stronger if they show what it means to own their mistakes, change and make things better—that means more transparency, truthfulness and honesty. My hope is that someday my hometown will be remembered for more than just this devastating event. That they will be remembered for the way they transformed through this tragedy, changing our generation and maybe…who knows…even people around the world.

9 Comments on “State College–How Will my Hometown be Remembered?

  1. Jason and I are constantly amazed at how this mess is national and international news, but we often forget that Penn State has about 50,000 students go through every year from all over the world. Also, while I didn’t attend Penn State and have no desire too, I fully believe the University and Community will recover. We are, and always will be, Penn State.

  2. Love the posts! What is adventyret? I might be your reader with smallest vocabulary 😦

  3. You’ve articulated very well just how widespread the damage caused by Sandusky and Paterno and Curley and Spanier will be, from the most proximate, immediate victims to the institution’s very real reputation for u[rightness—a place worthy to be loyal to—to the students who now find their degrees and the hard work that went into earning them tainted, to those central Pennsylvanians who will doubtless lose their jobs as penalties to PSU mount and already-massive state appropriations cuts become easier to justify in the minds of legislators for whom the brand is now tied forever to terrible scandal …

    Personally I think the football program should be completely shut down for as many years as its leaders conspired to destroy souls while proclaiming their program clean above all others. Given the number of guiltless, though, who depend on it for jobs, that would of course do more harm than good. I’m glad the statue came down. I don’t know how I feel about Paterno’s name being right outside my office on the library he basically built. I guess good: the Paterno Library houses the social sciences, which is the field most likely to discover ways to spot abuse early and then effectively (if possible) treat it.

    I just feel sick about the whole thing. I wonder what the mood is going to be come September when all the students are back.

    PS–I love your writing. You’re so articulate, and an absolute pleasure to read. Hålla uppe det goda arbetet! (This is Google Translate’s version of “Keep up the good work!” I hope I didn’t just tell you to tie your dog on the roof for your next roadtrip…) 🙂

    • I couldn’t agree with you more, a dismantling of the entire program would be the best way to give PSU football what it needs, an entire new beginning, but for the sake of those who depend on the program…well, it’s not a solution either. Thanks for tuning in and leaving your feedback!! I loved your comments and those you posted earlier on FB. And as for your Swedish, Tack sa mycket!

  4. So sad to think this heartbreaking news is worldwide. All when we need sunshine in our days. Sill love reading your words and seeing your picture, almost as much as the one of your family on my fridge. hugs…

    • Evelyn,
      Thank you. As they say time heals all wounds, and time has given people perspective in State College. Paterno has since passed on and people are starting to call for the return of his statue to Penn State University. He was the coach there and did a lot of good in the community. He told the University President what he knew about the Sandusky incident as soon as it happened. It was the administrator’s decision, at that point, to do nothing, or in other words, cover it up. The prosecutors that put Sandusky in jail have exonerated Paterno of any wrong doing. Opinions are divided, but people are starting to move on. The football team has a new coach and fans are more supportive than ever of the team. Everyone wants to see their hometown remembered, not for this incident, but for the good men and women that serve in the community and make it one of the best places you can live.

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