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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

Response: Penn Staters Pride Rests In Knowledge

Dennis Jordan, Class of 2007, wrote in The Daily Collegian today a letter to the editor in regard to Safeguard Old State’s most recent campaign, “For The Glory … Know The Words,” which promoted knowledge of the Penn State Fight Song lyrics to a new generation of Penn Staters.

For the record, we wanted to set the record straight about our purpose behind the “For The Glory … Know The Words” spirit campaign. Safeguard Old State acknowledges that new traditions — even a tradition celebrating ignorance of our fight songs and thereby our legacy — can be worth honoring as an integral part of students’ Penn State experience.

As we recently underscored at the SOS Penn State Matters blog on the Centre Daily Times/This Is Lion Country website, though, we believe a far more honorable tradition can be discovered in a renewed pride and celebration of the real lyrics to our Penn State Fight Songs.

So, for Mr. Jordan and all those who wondered why we began the “For The Glory … Know The Words” campaign, here’s a glimpse into the campaign’s philosophical underpinnings:

SOS: Penn State MattersThe G-D Words – Anyone who’s spent their share of Fall Saturdays in the southeast bleachers of Beaver Stadium knows that most students, during the alma mater, replace every single line with, “We don’t know the G-D words.”  With a wink and a nod, Penn Staters from across the generational spectrum share in this irreverent inside joke.

When the wide-eyed frosh first find themselves among the residents of PA’s third-largest city, this odd behavior mystifies them.  They actually don’t know the words, let alone realize they’re supposed to be singing about it.  Soon enough though, they start to catch on.  Quickly, we hope.  They’re Penn Staters after all.

Fast forward a few years, and that same group (well, at least those lucky enough to keep winning in the ticket lottery) is belting out those profane alternate lyrics loudly enough to help yet another group of greenhorn underclassmen get with the program.

Eventually, most alums make it back for at least one football game after graduation.  All the alumni in attendance were students at some point, so it would only make sense for them to hearken back to those days and, when the Blue Band plays the alma mater, indulge in the habits of their youth.  But it doesn’t happen.  In fact, most of them find themselves following the lyrics on the big screens and singing every word, perhaps because they have finally, since leaving the shadow of Mt. Nittany, come to appreciate their meaning.

So we arrive in Happy Valley with hardly a clue, about song lyrics and a good many other things (shapeless in the hands of fate, as it were). As we learn and grow, gaining skills and building friendships, we jokingly sing the praises of own ignorance.  Finally, and when we have been made ready, we return to Our Mother with respect and understanding to properly pledge our allegiance.

It’s not just a silly Saturday tradition; it’s a metaphor for the journey that is the true Penn State experience.

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