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Time heals all wounds

On November 15, 2012

I want to start todays column with a little bit of frankness about myself. Id like to think of myself as logical guy who is never really moved by emotion or whimsy. I am in no way cold, callus or cruel nor am I the type to willingly spark controversy. Finally, I want to make an important point to note that the vast majority of this column is directed at the student body and is no way, shape or form directed at Marshall Universitys alumni or the Huntington community.

Now these disclaimers are out of the way, I want to delve into what happened yesterday, namely, the 42nd annual commemoration of the 1970 Marshall Plane Crash.

I could not imagine the pain and agony the friends and families went through following the crash. To lose a loved one unexpectedly is always a shock; it leaves one numb and lost. I watched yesterdays ceremony solemnly, reflecting on how such a tragedy must have felt to the community.
However, I wondered how long must a community be reminded of a tragedy. Forty-two years have passed since these young athletes died; why must we continue to be reminded? Or to put it more precisely, why must this display of pageantry continue?
Im willing to hedge my bets the vast majority of those at yesterdays ceremony not only had nothing to do with this tragedy, but were probably born about two decades after the fact. In their heart of hearts, I doubt if they truly felt the loss of those who were alive and well when the plane went down.
The old clich goes, Time heals all wounds. Well, I say 42 years is healing enough.

Our nation has learned to deal with tragedy. Every year, the news mentions the dates of our national tragedies, from Pearl Harbor to Oklahoma City, from JFK to 9/11. However, as the years pass, theres less pageantry involved, for the simple fact that less and less people are around who remember when it happened. Were reminded, but not too much. Even 9/11 wasnt observed much this year; the NY Times didnt even put it on the front page.
But the ceremony is a long-standing tradition at Marshall. Mountaineers burn couches, Yale has the Skull and Crossbones and Marshall has this crash. Its the sort of thing that we carry on, like Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Like many traditions, this ceremony, I argue, has become devoid of meaning. The students who attended werent here when this happened; they had nothing to do with it. Its a duty, something we always do and thats that. However, as the years pass, it loses its power. I can see how in the decade that followed the crash, the campus community bound themselves together in solidarity but at this point, its just a motion we go through every year.

However, there is much to be learned from this ceremony and the story it tells. Despite the loss, Marshall was able to pull together and build a pretty successful football program in the years following the crash. The Thundering Herd was resilient, came together and carried on for years to come.

The point Im trying to get to is this; why must the Herd constantly be cast in this shadow of reaction? Our campus rhetoric indicates that we are constantly battling this tragedy. Instead, lets just call a spade a spade and acknowledge our student body has nothing to be reacting to here, just for the simple fact that we were not around. Lets instead look toward the future of this university, not in with the lenses of grief, but with the optimism of an institution who is looking for bountiful success. We are Marshall because we want to be Marshall. The phoenix rises from the ashes new and after flying through blue skies, stops looking at the fire he came from.
Henry Culvyhouse can be contacted at

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