by Marc Cullison [mcullison.com]
Oklahoma State University at Stillwater, Oklahoma, has done it again. The homecoming celebration was as terrific as ever. It is one of the largest, if not the largest, homecoming celebration in the nation. Each sorority partners with a fraternity to design and construct a display that reflects the homecoming theme. This year it was, “Branding a brighter orange.” The elaborate affairs appear like giant billboards along the viewing route. My wife and daughter and I were dazzled by the lights, colors, and animations that took hundreds of hours to complete by students who had much better things to do than poke pomps through chicken wire. There are many other events, as well.
I was never a homecoming fanatic, especially when I was going to OSU. At that time, I was in the Pershing Rifles military fraternity, associated with the ROTC program. The first year I was there, the Pershing Rifles members were charged with directing traffic around the campus and through the streets to insure safety of the pedestrians. It was a big deal back then. I’m talking 1964 vintage.
After my tireless shift well into the cool night in a stuffy army uniform, replete with white gloves, spit-shined boots, a flashlight and whistle, I was as good as dead. I’d had my fill of homecoming even then. I never looked forward to another. Not until several years ago when my daughter attended OSU. The transformation of my allegiance to OSU was remarkable. I surprised myself when I returned to the campus to see all of the new buildings and facilities that served the students. Of course, many of my old haunts were still there, just in a little better shape than when I had left them. OSU had not missed me at all. In fact, the university had grown and prospered, and the student population seemed to be as lively as it was when I was there.
I go back whenever I can. It rejuvenates the student aura that lives within me. I will never get over it. I have always enjoyed learning and I suspect I always will. OSU was like home to me. It still is, in some respects. I grew up there. I mean, really grew up. Well, the first phase, anyway. The second one occurred in Vietnam. The third when I married my terrific wife. The fourth and final one, when our daughter was born. It’s a cycle that every person goes through, I suppose.
But Oklahoma State University is special to me. It afforded me the opportunities that made me what I am, not that that is any great feat. But to me, it is one of the biggest deals of my life. So, I go back. The memories drift by like a sea of mysteries. What would have happened if…
The next time your school sponsors a homecoming, give it a try. You might be surprised.