On Saturday January 22, 2011 the Auburn University family came together to celebrate what was the culmination of a year of hard work and devotion to a single cause, a BCS National Championship victory. After 53 years and three close calls, the Auburn Tigers brought the title back to the plains much to the joy of the estimated 70,000+ fans in attendance for the celebration at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The event began with the newly elected governor of Alabama, Dr. Robert Bentley reading a prepared speech and then at the end proclaiming “War Eagle”. I was amused to observe many people in the crowd scoff at this, seeing as how he is an Alabama fan and it seemed to many just to be amusing more than anything else.
Attending the festivities along with a small group of friends and myself was a old friend, Stewart, who graduated from Auburn University in the Fall of 2007. Stewart has since moved on to a successful job at a real estate development firm, but has always remained close to his college roots firmly planted here at Auburn. He was able to attend a few games this year, but he said he just knew he had to attend the celebration, knowing that it would be a one of a kind experience.
I asked Stewart how it felt as alumni to be back at the place where he had made so many memories. His response was that even though it didn't happen until after he left, he still feels like he is a student in the amount of pride he feels. According to him you do not have to be a student and walk the campus every day to feel more pride than can rightfully be explained by words alone. He thinks of this as a very different year than 2004, a year when Auburn went undefeated only to be left out of the championship game. He explains that the feeling after that season was not one that was necessarily devoid of pride, but rather one of anger towards the whole system. He agreed that this celebration did a lot to soothe those wounds that were still felt stinging earlier this year, and that many alumni he had talked had put 2004 in the past where it belongs.
By the end of the celebration, as the balloons flew away and the band struck up one more victory song, I glanced around at all my friends and at all my Auburn family. Everyone, young and old, had tears streaming down their faces. At that moment I came to know the meaning of the word pride, and at that time it meant War Eagle!