Op-Ed: Why Are We Focusing on Homecoming Week When My Dad is Still in Afghanistan?
Homecoming: it’s a once-a-year celebration that unites the entire campus and fosters a sense of Northwestern pride unlike any other event of the school year. Whether you are a student or alum, Homecoming Week is an exciting time to be a Wildcat fan, and all that excitement culminates in a raucous and thrilling football game on Saturday. And certainly there’s nothing quite like the feeling throughout the whole Northwestern community this week. Now, this is all very well and good of course—and in no way do I wish to disparage the tradition of Homecoming—but even so I have to wonder why the entire campus is so focused on these festivities while my dad still has not come home from his tour of duty in Afghanistan.
My family, and my father especially, knows that football is not something to be taken lightly. It's our nation’s favorite sport and, in terms of bringing America together, it is second only to supporting the troops and their families. Or so I thought. Sure, Homecoming is a classic American tradition, but should we really be focusing on drinking and partying when my greatest male role model is still fighting for our freedom in the Middle East? Absolutely not.
Admittedly, I have never been the type of person to embrace school spirit wholeheartedly. In high school you never saw me painting my chest at football games, leading school-wide pep rallies, or humming the alma mater as I skipped to first period English; that’s just not me. I do understand, however, that these types of traditions are very near and dear to the hearts of many of my peers, and that they have a fantastic power to unite a diverse student body with a singular feeling of community. What I do not understand is the fact that none of these feelings of kinship seem to extend to helping my family deal with the burden of an absent parent.
I have found many of my fellow students to be excited that our football team is coming back to Evanston after having spent a week in the distant city of Ann Arbor. And I am absolutely sure that their journey home was both harrowing and worthy of such a fantastic event. But let’s not forget that the man who raised me is still serving in the U.S. military as a soldier in Afghanistan, and it cannot really be Homecoming until both he and our boys in purple are back in Evanston where they belong. Go, U Northwestern, bring my pop back home.