Silently I paused while walking through the Oak Grove at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, my alma mater. While the university has changed so many things since my graduation, the Oak Grove appears to be the remaining, residual component of my school and my experience there. In the Oak Grove are fond memories of my university, the trees, their smells, their acorns and the grey squirrels that inhabit the grove.
I paused to soak in the dense autumn aroma from the fallen oak leaves and enjoy the cool crisp air of Western Pennsylvania. Nearly alone in the Oak Grove I drank my steamy coffee and passed our football team’s star player heading toward the gridiron where later in the day he would suffer a season ending injury. We politely looked at each other as he was mentally preparing, deep in himself, for the game. I am hopeful he noticed the beauty in the Oak Grove that day.
When I made my way through the Oak Grove I paused to reminisce about the incredible day when we fired the ROTC cannon there… round after round incorporated into the IUP Marching Band’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. The blasting sounds reverberated from the buildings on the perimeter of the Oak Grove. It was the only known time that such a performance was done that way there.
The Oak Grove holds the memories of every student that ever went to Indiana University of Pennsylvania. It is where peace was found. At an ever evolving university it may be the only, but lasting, structure or tradition that binds each of us who have been educated at IUP.