“We.” The simple phrase that has so much power, and yet is still so ambiguous. As a child, if someone said “We,” you always hoped it included you, that you were a part of that We.
We can be a family, a partnership, a group of people stringing together for a cause. We signifies banding as one, a togetherness bred from this gentle two letter word.
We speaks to the inclusion of everyone, with no title needed. Because We are enough.
We is strong. So strong in fact that it is intertwined with the vital organs of American culture as both the first word of the Constitution and the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.
While it may have a different meaning to different people, one thing stands true. We is inclusion, camaraderie, and fellowship. Here at UNC, “We,” is all of us.
We is a family. All 20,000 of us. We is not exactly knowing someone by name, but still smiling and shouting “Go Heels,” in a public setting.
We is Halloween. Walking to Franklin fully clad in your best costume to see 80,000 of your dearest friends packed within a quarter of a mile. A little cramped, but We know it was worth it.
We is the united joy the day after a win against the school eight miles down the road. No words are said; the smiles on our faces tell the story.
We know YoPo, and a smooth cake batter cone to cool a Thursday afternoon. We know TOPO, the restaurant on the corner of South Columbia and East Franklin that has started and ended so many evenings.
We know how to cram for exams the night before, fueled by excessive coffee and a calming tune of choice over the headphones. Sometimes this cramming occurs in a library, and We know nothing more satisfying being the last one to leave Davis library.
We know GDTBATH, and donning a soft smile when someone asks what it means. We Tar Heels know.
We all recall swinging our shirts in the air when Petey Pablo beckons us to “spin it like a helicopter.” We can’t help but tap our foot listening to The Clef Hangers as they perform at Sunset Serenade, welcoming the Tar Heel family in for another year.
We know feeling like a child at convocation, a little apprehensive, but excited for a new experience. We find the lucky chance to shoot hoops in the Dean Dome, and wow, who knew it could be Christmas in mid-August?
We remember Fall Fest, being overwhelmed by all the possibilities. All the chances to try new things. We got lost the next day trying to find the dining hall. Who knew you could accidentally get to the Old Well en route to Rams Head dining?
We streak in honor of LDOC. We don't know how it started or why, but man is it exhilarating to run through Davis Library in our birthday suit.
We love snow days. Getting out of class, however rare that may be. Playing with all of our new friends, and sliding down Skipper Bowles Drive with our university mattress as a sleigh.
We know finding lifetime friends all within the confines of a hallway we called home.
We feel the presence of legends of a time before ours. Striding into Woollen for an intramural game, we feel the energy of the undefeated 1957 team led by Lennie Rosenbluth coursing through our veins. We sense the aura of the early career of Dean Smith, starting with some unknown youngster named Charles Scott.
We take a deep rooted sense of accomplishment in all the titles and the banners. No, most of us were not on the team, but it sure feels like it.
We know the Dean Dome, Kenan, the Bosh, and Fetzer. Hallowed grounds where we gather to cheer the team in Tar Heel Blue.
We know that sense of pride. The pride that seeps into your pores without even knowing it’s there. The sense of comfort that comes from knowing that, when everything around you is going wrong, We Tar Heels are there.
We know long lines at top of Lenoir, battling countless others in a common goal: A table.
We know how it feels to be a kid. Looking up to our idols Joseph Forte, Jawad Williams, and Tyler Hansbrough. Our mood swung with the outcome of the game, and goodness gracious, that 2009 title run kept us smiling the whole month of March.
We claim Lawrence Taylor, B.J. Surhoff, Tobin Heath, Charlotte Smith, and the freshman named Michael that hit the shot to win the title in 1982.
We walk through the Arboretum with a classmate, discussing life with a new friend. We didn’t know it at the time, but that person would stand beside us on our wedding day.
We never lose our sense of camaraderie. Whether it be through a trick play on the football field, an alley-oop on the court or a diving grab in centerfield. We all felt anger as they negated one of our flashy plays because of some subliminal rule. We may have been wrong in our emotions, but if you mess with one of us, you mess with us all.
We all know the pride that wells up when compared athletically. We cringe at the mention of Duke, chuckle at State, and scratch our chins when Wake Forest is mentioned.
We are some of the only people who think of a 3-pointer and not a fruit when someone says Berry, a warrior in the trenches and not a hot flavoring when someone says Peppers, a force in the paint and not a month when someone says "May," and a goal instead of pork when someone says “Hamm.”
We remember the relationship that worked out. We met in the Pit one day, it was a Monday. The sun was shining, but not as bright as her.
We recall going in Kenan at night. The moon pales in comparison to that comforting, LED light.
We is moving in a sister, or brother, dreaming about the day we get to be part of the UNC community. We went to Sutton's that day, sat beside a really nice guy, he was huge. His name was Julius Peppers.
We know Tar Heel greats. We remember Dean Smith’s collected manner as he held up four fingers, calling for the signature offense that led him to 879 wins. We know the legacy, and pride he brought this university. We recall the pain when he died. We all mourned.
We still say “Booyah!” when the Tar Heels score. We all remember slapping the back of the guy beside us at the bar. “He’s a Tar Heel,” We'd say as Stu delivered the evening's best plays on SportsCenter. We smile at the legacy of Stuart Scott, but boy, We sure do miss him.
We are winners. University of National Champions, we call ourselves. As students we all found ourselves in the midst of one title run or another.
We is not always winning, though. We know the roller coaster of emotions on April 4, 2016. The 4.7 seconds that felt like a lifetime. We watched Marcus Paige deliver what may have been the best shot in Tar Heel history, only to feel our hearts drop as Kris Jenkins’ dagger found the net.
We is getting back to the championship game the very next year. We remember Kennedy Meeks sliding across the lane to block that shot on April 3. We stormed Franklin Street on the night of a National Title. Running to see all our friends, jumping over fires. I speak for all of us when I say, We were excited.
We is getting up at 6 AM for your 12 o'clock class on FDOC, just to go get that sip from the Old Well to assure a 4.0.
We recall the mysterious legends surrounding restaurants of old, and the mythos of Old East, Old West and Davie Poplar. Some of us may not know which tree it is, but we sure won’t tell anyone that.
We are stories from Tar Heels past about the Lasagna at the Rat, paper thin slices at Pepper’s, and a Blue Cup from He’s Not to help wash it down. We is a late night run to Cosmic Cantina after a full day of activities. We is taking the stage for open mic night at WB Yeats. A little nervous? Maybe, but We’re glad we did it.
We is gathering a group of friends and going to the Varsity on a Friday night to watch a classic movie, followed by some cheese fries and a brew from Linda’s. We can’t wait to discuss stories of our own to keep the folklore alive.
We know that feeling in the pit of your stomach, that wrestles its way into your throat when you look out from the Bell Tower, don that cap and gown, and realize you actually have to leave the place that cemented a spot in your heart as a second home.
We view Franklin Street as our vacation, the Bell Tower as our North Star, and the Old Well as a familiar landmark, acting as a pit stop on our journey home to South Campus.
We all feel for Hinton James as we take our super-abridged version of his trek from Wilmington to a class in Phillips.
We is the initial fear of walking in Wilson Library, and then the embarrassed laughter once we overcame that fear.
We know tripping on bricks. That subtle little stumble that taught us all to keep our eyes peeled when trekking through the pit.
We remember scrounging up enough money for fancy dates at 411 West, then sitting by the Old Well in the moonlight, dreaming only about the present moment.
We all smile as we reminisce on warm days in the quad, laughing with friends. Perhaps a dog showed up. We liked those days.
“We,” is choking up when these lyrics come over the radio: “In my mind I’m gone to Carolina/Can’t you see the sunshine?/Can’t you just feel the moonshine?” Memories swell up as we cry on a morning commute with the pure voice of James Taylor guiding us into days of old.
We is trying new things, making new friends, going out of our comfort zone to find the best comfort of all. This family.
“We,” is the everlasting friendships planted at this university. Fertilized by a common love for the team in Tar Heel blue.
We can’t help but feel it. As near, or far as we go from this place, we can never get it out of our hearts.
We is feeling at home, no matter how far away, because We are Tar Heels.