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    Posted January 24, 2012 by
    State College, Pennsylvania
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Remembering Joe Paterno

    More from spintography

    A Community in Mourning


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Photographer Matt Spingola and writer Emily Granville, both in their 30s, grew up in the State College area. Last night, they were walking through downtown and noticed a lot of insightful displays in memory of Joe Paterno. 'It was all so positive and so insightful,' spintography said of the public memorials. 'It's a sad day in Happy Valley and we’re just trying to do right by remembering him.'
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    Deciding to walk the longer route back to my car, I journey past storefronts emblazoned with large dark spectacles, messages of remembrance, and other outpourings of grief. As newsstands sit empty, depleted of their contents, the ominously gray sky seems appropriate for a town in mourning. Approaching Heister Street, I pause at a mural in which a haloed Joe Paterno is two seats down from a chair occupied by a single blue ribbon. Prior to November 2011, the chair with the blue ribbon was inhabited by the likeness of Jerry Sandusky.

    For those unfamiliar with the blue ribbon’s meaning, it is worn to promote awareness of child abuse and child abuse prevention. The mural serves as a reminder of the incongruous emotions knotting my stomach, and I pause to reflect. We have not only lost a revered man of our community, but an abject evil has invaded our once seemingly safe and sheltered home. With the Jerry Sandusky scandal firmly rooted in our hearts and minds, how do we come to terms with the layers of grief?

    Our beloved champion wished he had done more. I think we all wish he and many others had done more. However, despite the vehemence spewed in online commentaries and social media, I still find myself caught somewhere in the middle. While I was not personally involved in the scandal, I feel shock, abhorrence, and sadness for the victims. It feels natural to want to scream and tear apart anyone who would let such depravities occur. Then again, my emotions are somehow tempered with memories of the decades of Joe Paterno’s innumerable good deeds.

    Nearing my car parked just outside of Beaver Stadium, I look up to see the video board inside. There is a simple image displaying JoePa smiling down with his arms crossed, his name, and the years of his life. Despite all of the controversy, I feel no anger—only profound sadness. Happy Valley has suffered great loss and it seems fitting that both he and the victims be remembered.
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