My whole life, I wanted to be a Beaver. Oregon State was in my blood even in the womb. Orange and black running through my veins since birth. When I graduated from Oregon State, my sense of accomplishment was enormous. Even now, several years since then, I still regard my time in Corvallis as the five best years of my life (most were on the five year plan then).
As time has gone on, I have always encouraged high schoolers to go away from home when they go to college. Some do not have college in their plans when it comes to finishing high school. I understand this position to a degree. Trust me, I was never a student either. But what college offers, like OSU, was not entirely the experience in the classroom. A good friend of mine once said as we were sitting in the Memorial Union quad on the Oregon State campus, “You know, it’s not everything else interfering with school, it is school interfering with everything else.” Duly noted.
Life as a Beaver was everything I had hoped for and more. It was a social mecca. High school was the minor league for extrovert activity. College was the pros. It was the beginning of life on your own. You had responsibility, but not so much where it wore you down. Everyone was in the same boat and on the same level. Going to class was a formality to a world outside of pounding the books.
Needed food or drink? It was off to the Ette (Superette, a small store – smaller than a coffee shop – between campus and fraternity row). Football Saturdays, despite a struggling program, was always a happening. Pre-game (consumption of an alcoholic nature) at Parker Stadium (now Reser Stadium) began in the morning for afternoon games. Basketball season was the best. At that time, the Beaver basketball team was on the map. Getting to Gill Coliseum early was essential for good seats. For the UCLA and Oregon games, if you didn’t arrive six or seven hours before game time, it was nosebleeds for you and your friends.
Yes, those were the days. Good times. You see, even as a kid, I had a dream to attend OSU. On the scale of dreams, it may not have been large, but it was there. My college dream came true.
Where am I going with all this? I write this with a saddened heart. On December 14th, as we all know, 20 children were taken from their parents in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty dreams, maybe more, disappeared. I was not related to any of the taken. And by no means is my intention to lead people to believe my heart lies heavy like those of these torn families. But I do hope somewhere those 20 kids are living their dreams in another place.
If there is any justice in a world beyond where we are, the 20 children from an elementary school in Connecticut are playing to the sounds of a happier drum. They are not in fear as they probably were in the closing moments of their childhood lives. I am hoping everyone is seeing a picture of all of them smiling big and dreaming bigger. Where kids’ dreams do come true and nothing or no one will stop them.
Being on the East Coast, it is unlikely any of those children wanted to be an Oregon State Beaver. But maybe they wanted to be a Connecticut Husky. Maybe a football player, basketball player, volleyball, soccer or cheerleader. Lives cut short by a disturbing act of terror.
I have never stood on the footsteps of tragedy and I hope I never do. It has been said how we handle adversity is as important as how we handle success. My heart bleeds for all the families of the lost children. Never has hope been more valuable than now. Hope that somehow these parents can someday put the pieces of their tattered lives back together. Hope for every child out there has an opportunity to pursue their dreams whether it is going to college or not. Hope, if nothing else, each child at least gets the chance to make that decision. And children get to at least live their lives. Hope for a better tomorrow.