Pennsylvania State University has removed its statue of football coach Joe Paterno after evidence showed Paterno's role in allowing years of child abuse by defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky to go unchecked. As expected, some in the Penn State community assert that removing the statue wipes away all the good Paterno did. I disagree.
I didn't attend Penn State and didn't know Paterno, but I have been inspired by several people about whom opinion was divided, some of whom were even later disgraced. While this taints their legacies and dims my view of them, it does not take away the lessons I learned from them, the values I made my own. Joe Paterno's failings in the Sandusky scandal led to removal of the statue, but they do not take away the good values and behavior Paterno inspired in generations. Part of a person's legacy is all the people he inspires, and all the people they inspire in turn.