Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Marshall's Memorial Fountain is a celebration of life
"They shall live on in the hearts of their families and friends forever, and this memorial records their loss to the university and the community.”
Inscription from bronze plaque at fountain plaza site
The Memorial Student Center Fountain is a tulip-shaped sculpture which will always serve as a reminder of Marshall University’s past and its future. Located in the plaza area on the campus-side of the Student Center building, this unique landmark stands as a monument to those who perished in the November 14, 1970 plane crash that killed most of the school’s football team.
This tragedy cut so deep because it involved more than the football team, coaching staff and school administrators. Also lost were some of the school’s strongest supporters. Doctors, attorneys, business people and civic leaders were also on board the ill-fated flight in which there were no survivors.
The fountain serves as a monument to honor those who died, but that isn’t the sole purpose for its existence. When the fountain was dedicated a few days before the second anniversary of the crash in November 1972, sculptor Harry Bertoia made it known that his creation was more about celebrating life as opposed to mourning the tragic deaths of the crash victims.
There’s strong symbolism associated with Memorial Fountain. The flowing waters from the fountain represent the continuation of life. Every year on November 14, the school conducts a memorial service which includes the traditional laying of the wreath at the front of the fountain. Once that part of the service is completed, the fountain’s waters are turned off until the next spring.