COLUMN

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.— Some say it is time to move on.  Some say it has been 43 years and it is time to leave the past in the past.  Those who say that obviously have never attended the somber ceremony held each November 14 on the Memorial Student Center Plaza and watched as the memorial fountain is turned off and the 75 sons and daughters of Marshall who died on Southern Airways Flight 932 in 1970 are remembered and honored.

Growing up I knew the story.  It was told to me by my uncle.  He was a freshman with the Thundering Herd in 1970 and a member of the Young Thundering Herd in 1971.   I admit, I did not have a true appreciation for the tragedy.  However, over the last several years I’ve come to understand why this is such a revered day and why it should never be forgotten.

I grew up a generation removed from the crash.  I wasn’t around in 1970 and only learned of the catastrophe through stories I was told and what I could read.  However, that could only tell part of the story.  I could not comprehend how the Marshall community was impacted by the crash.

In 2006, the story became real for me as the anticipation built for the release of the movie “We Are… Marshall.”  For the first time, Jack Lengyel, Reggie Oliver, Nate Ruffin and others, were not just names associated with the story; they became real people.  The movie, along with the documentary “Ashes to Glory,” brought to the story to life.  The pain experienced by so many in 1970 was evident and the importance of the resurgence of Marshall football in the late 1980’s and 1990’s took on a new meaning.

The films, especially “We Are… Marshall,” re-introduced my generation to the tragedy, re-energizing the memories of an event that occurred before I was born so they would not just fade away with time.

My reverence for the tragedy grew again in 2010 during an interview with longtime WSAZ-TV anchor Bos Johnson.  He was on the front lines of the television coverage of the crash.  Listening to him tell his story, I could detect by the sound of his voice that it was still hard to talk about.

At the end of the interview, I asked if he would be attending the fountain ceremony that year.  His response was “no.”

In fact, Johnson has never attended the ceremony, nor has he ever counted how many friends he lost that day.  It’s simply too difficult for him.

That hit home for me.  Even after more than four decades, the memories and the pain of those who lived through the crash are still fresh.

Understanding more deeply what happened that November night has given me new appreciation for the championships of the 1980’s and 1990’s.  I know why it is special every time the Thundering Herd takes the field.

Yes, there will be those who tell us we should move on.  They will simply never understand.

Marshall alumni talk about their university with a sense of pride and honor that cannot be matched because the tragedy brings us all together.  The events of November 14, 1970 are part of our history.  They are part of who we are.

We will never forget.

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Comments

  • steve

    I was a senior at Marshall in 1970 and will never forget the crash. The sophmores on that team were undefeated as freshmen ( back then freshman could not play varsity ) . It was a surreal experience to live through this

  • peleliu

    Where their any players who did not make the trip because of injuries or other reasons?

  • Rob

    God Bless the Herd Nation on this somber day. May you find peace in your faith.

  • Martinsburg Resident

    As a1990 Marshall Grad...may we never forget and may today be a day of honor to all (75) who were lost... All across America today "WeAreMarshall"

  • WHB

    I was 22 at the time, from PA, but recently graduated from West Liberty State College. My yet to be born daughter now lives in Huntington and teaches at Marshall. I made sure she knew the story. Neither of us will ever forget.

  • PDF

    I told my someone yesterday that This is the first time Marshall has played on the road on The Anniversary. He said "What anniversary?" We here will always remember. I was 9 staying overnight with my Grand Mother who never missed a home game when it came across the tv. She started crying and screaming "They're
    gone they're all gone."Today my Grand sons play youth football and dream of playing at Marshall someday. They know the meaning of
    WE ARE MARSHALL.
    and No We should Never Forget.

  • cutty77

    I'd say to people to watch that movie again. Then you will see where Bobby Bowden of WVU helped Marshall out as much as it could. Its a Great Movie. Never forget History.I remember where is was at that rainy Sat, Night and heard the news. Both Marshall and WVU people never forget this.

  • Michael

    Maybe when talking football there are disagreements....but when discussing this tragedy....there is no such thing as a state divided. Eers and Herd are one! God Bless everyone involved!

  • Big Dave

    I was wee little when that happened. I remember my mom crying.

  • Ed Wilson

    I remember it just like it happened yesterday! I can still name all the players in the team picture. I don't think I ever will forget the names of all those players and coaches!

    • peleliu

      Ed Wilson from St. Marys? Tell my favorite cheerleader hi ;-)

      • Ed Wilson

        I was on the 1970 Marshall Freshman Football Team and a member of the young Thundering Herd. I can still remember all of the
        players and coaches like it was yesterday! We practiced against the varsity everyday to get them ready for each week's opponent. I will never forget those coaches and players!

  • Curly Joe

    I remember that Saturday evening like it was yesterday, and do not want to forget it, as painful as it is. May these good souls rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon them.

  • wvtd

    GOD bless them all!!!