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Time heals all wounds


The Parthenon

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 00:11

I want to start today’s column with a little bit of frankness about myself. I’d 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 University’s 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 yesterday’s 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?
I’m willing to hedge my bets the vast majority of those at yesterday’s 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 cliché 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, there’s less pageantry involved, for the simple fact that less and less people are around who remember when it happened.  We’re reminded, but not too much. Even 9/11 wasn’t observed much this year; the NY Times didn’t 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.  It’s 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 weren’t here when this happened; they had nothing to do with it. It’s a duty, something we always do and that’s 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, it’s 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 I’m 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, let’s 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.  Let’s 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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7 comments Log in to Comment

Thu Mar 27 2014 02:22
I know this is an old article but I just came across it. All I can say, is that its a good thing I didn't come across this when it was first written. Speaking as a person who lost her father on this crash, I can assure you that no amount of time is ever enough to stop grieving for and missing some one you have lost. For me, I was only 6 months old so I have no memories of my 27 year old father to hold on to. Every day of my life, the fact that I don't have my father in my life is something I deal with so no 42, 43 50, 60 years is never enough time to "get over it and move on"....
Sat Nov 17 2012 00:19
Henry, this is your classmate from Physical Geography in the Spring 2012 semester. It appears that you do not understand grief or the impact of losing someone you cared about under unfair circumstances too early in life, but that can be said about nearly anyone. However, you do not know how to respect grieving individuals and communities, as is evident from the feedback. Hospice of Huntington offers seminars on that very subject. If you are experiencing some unresolved grief of your own, the Psychology Clinic or the Counseling Center on campus, or even Hospice of Huntington could help you with that.

You have reinforced to the Marshall community the need to continue these memorial services and possibly the need for some bereavement and grief education. But I truly hope that very soon you will in some way realize the negative impact of what you wrote. It is on the Internet and this ain't going to disappear. This could also impact your chances of getting a stable job, not just in your major field of journalism regardless of how well you exercise your First Amendment rights to free speech. You are getting close to graduating and given that you are young and in college is not an excusable reason to let you off the hook about this. A potential future employee might be connected to Marshall University or have loved ones who died under similar circumstances as the 1970 crash that Saturday night. Someone probably will associate you with disrespecting the dead and disrespecting grieving families and communities.

Please realize the reputation you have created for yourself. It is not a positive reputation. I have a few thoughts of my own about you, but however I am mature enough not to publish them on the Internet for the world to see. I know you cannot fight fire with fire.

I hope you take the feedback into consideration and realize the impact of your words. Please do not abuse your First Amendment rights. With great freedom comes great responsibility.

I am from Washington, DC. Although I am not from West Virginia and had no ties to Marshall or WV before coming to MU, I feel a deep connection to those affected by the plane crash. My heart goes out to their families and friends who may still be working on coming to terms with their grief.

ff 305
Fri Nov 16 2012 08:53
I was only three when the tragedy happened. I went to Marshall for years and earned three degrees. I have visited the memorial at Spring Hill several times. I attended the memorial service while at school. I have read the names of all the people who perished. I have seen the memorial at MU Cafe. I have talked to some of the family members who remain. I have sat by the fountain. I never knew a single person who died in that crash, but my heart still breaks for them and their families. I may be an old softy, but I can barely look at the headlines and pictures at MU Cafe without shedding a tear. I am from this town and I am Marshall. I in no way agree with this article, but I am also an American and support this guys freedom of speech and the freedom of the press, no matter how stupid and insensitive his statements are. He will grow and mature and maybe someday understand what it means to be a son of Marshall. At that point he should write another article.
Fri Nov 16 2012 02:35
My dad died in that plane crash, and you know what you are absolutely right. As a matter of fact, I think I should stab your disrespectful self AFTER Thanksgiving break, because it only takes one week to remember one person, especially a heartless journalist, as opposed to the 42 years that killed 75. I guess we will just find out now won't we?
Thu Nov 15 2012 20:42
It is a vast misconception to say that society somehow learns to deal with tragedies. Tragedies leave scars on the hearts of those who survive, constant reminders of what once was, of what has been lost. To argue that this ceremony has become devoid of meaning does an injustice not only to those who lost their lives on that fateful day in 1970, but also to Marshall University. For time does not heal all wounds, sometimes tragedies shape identities and become part of who we are. The crash of 1970 has become part of Marshall's identity, it was an event which united the Marshall Community. Every year on the anniversary of this tragedy, Marshall once again unites to remember that the Thundering Herd arose from the ashes of this tragedy and shall continue to soldier on.
Thu Nov 15 2012 16:14
I want to start my comment about this column with a little bit of frankness pertaining to the what I think about you and your writing; but, moreover, I would like to express what I think about the editor of this paper that agreed that this was anywhere near appropriate and/or logical as a piece of writing. I am not a writer, nor do I know enough to consider myself a valid critic, as I have no credentials to back up any criticism. Nevertheless, I believe that I have two things that you, apparently, do not posses: a heart and pride.

To the editor: You need to immediately remove this article and immediately consider removing Culvyhouse from your staff. Once this article is removed, I expect there to be an apology to the families who still grieve to this day, and an apology for all of us who had to suffer through reading such an utter atrocity. I have never joined a website just to post a comment out of such outrage and sadness that someone like this is allowed to write articles that are implemented into an official university paper. Given the information from the article, I am assuming the writer is a student. I gather this assumption for several reasons. The writing, in its most basic form, is flawed of basic logic concerning how our country remembers such tragedies. Putting the Marshall plane crash aside, your comments about 9/11 are offensive and completely unpatriotic. It doesn't matter what the NY Times thinks; it's what YOU think about the tragedies. Apparently, you need to reexamine your callused skin, make sure your blood is still warm, and check to see if your pulse is still there.

"The students who attended weren't here when this happened; they had nothing to do with it." This alone renders this article void of any legitimacy and/or logic. So here's what I propose to you, Henry. Since you weren't around during Independence Day, please don't celebrate July 4th. If you are a Christian, please stop celebrating Christmas, Easter, and stop receiving communion. If Jewish, please stop celebrating Hanukkah. On your father or mother's birthday, please stop celebrating. You were not alive during these happenings, so you should not celebrate these days. On Memorial and Veteran's Day, please don't remember those who fought and shed blood for your freedom, which should be cut short of your allowance to write articles. Furthermore, apparently you forgot about the many children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and friends of those who lost loved ones on that day. Are you saying that there were no people in attendance at the memorial that have a connection to the plane crash? I feel for those hundreds that attended the memorial that choose to read this garbage. I, personally, have no immediate connection to the plane crash. I was raised a WVU fan and observed the bitter rivalry between the two schools, but even through such bitterness, I, along with many other WVU fans I'm sure, sympathize and keep those affected by plane crash in our thoughts and prayers. especially on the day of annual memorial. Nevertheless, I guess I should stop advise my family to stop putting flowers on my grandfather's grave. According to Culvyhouse, we don't need to do this anymore. We shouldn't care about him anymore. We should simply just forget about him, because, after all, he is just getting in our way. He's six feet under in the cold dirt. He doesn't deserve any type of memorial anymore.

Your lack of patriotism and empathy sickens me, and I feel for all of the families who stumble across this article before it gets taken down for being one of the most ridiculous pieces of writing that has ever been printed on, what is supposed to be, a reputable newspaper.

Jordan Richardson
Thu Nov 15 2012 13:53
Nature, not content with denying this author the ability to think, has endowed him with the ability to write.

The logical inconsistencies are immediately observable in the article. The theory is that if an event occurred in the past, only those connected to the incident should bother with memorializing the event.

Should present day Jews ignore the history of the Holocaust? Should black Americans forget the march on Washington to secure Civil Rights? Of course not. We use these hallmark dates in our lives to remind us why we advance and why we go forward. Taking the time to memorialize the lives of those who died inspires us to live in the present to preserve their honor.

Perhaps the author would like to lead by example and refuse to celebrate his own birthday each year. After all, it happened 6 years ago, judging by his shoddy work.

How passé.

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