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Posted at 01:30 PM ET, 01/26/2012

Joe Paterno memorial service: More than 12,000 expected for final tribute

More than 12,000 mourners are expected to gather in the basketball arena next to Beaver Stadium at 2 p.m. today to pay final tribute to former Penn State coach Joe Paterno.

A representative of each decade of Paterno’s career at the school — he was head coach for 46 years — is expected to speak at the tribute, which is billed as “A Memorial for Joe.”

Jimmy Cefalo, a former Penn State and NFL receiver in the 1970s, is scheduled to be one of the speakers told the Associated Press he expects to talk about Paterno’s legacy, a topic of debate since his firing in November after former coach Jerry Sandusky’s arrest on child sex-abuse charges.

“What’s Joe’s legacy? The answer, is his legacy is us,” Cefalo said. “Generations of these young people from coal mines and steel towns who he gave a foundation to. It’s not 409 wins [a Division I record], it’s not two national championships, and it’s not five-time coach of the year. It’s us.”

Jay Paterno, Paterno’s son and former quarterbacks coach at the school, also is expected to speak.

The memorial ends the three-day mourning period for Paterno, who died Sunday at 85. There were public viewings Tuesday and Wednesday morning, followed by a private funeral Wednesday afternoon.

LaVar Arrington, a Washington Post contributor, was among the many former players who paid his respected in State College on Tuesday.

“Speaking with stars such as Franco Harris, Bruce Clark, Charlie Pittman, Shane Conlan, Ki-Jana Carter, O.J. McDuffie, Trey Bauer and so many more helped reconfirm what I had been feeling about everything,” Arrington wrote this morning.

“To hear the wisdom of their words assured me that while Penn State is in a very dark time right now, it is still the program I grew to know, a place where so many extraordinary people came from, taught by an extraordinary man. Ultimately that’s why I went to Penn State. I knew in my heart that the tradition and legacy that existed there was something that I had to be a part of, I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to be one of those guys I watched with my dad every Saturday. I wanted to say I played for Joe Paterno, and I did.”

More on Joe Paterno from Washington Post Sports

Mourners line route through campus

Joe Paterno’s final interview with Sally Jenkins

Jenkins: Let others decide the record he leaves

Joe Paterno dies at 85

Westboro Baptist Church plans protest

By  |  01:30 PM ET, 01/26/2012

 
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