|The exhibit is on display at a museum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (Photo by Chris Pow/al.com)|
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Exhibit honors Alabama players who died in crash
In the days immediately following the tragic plane crash, two local ministers helped to put together a trip that allowed Marshall’s black students to pay their final respects to their schoolmates who died on the night of November 14, 1970.
The venture would prove to be a mixture of joyous memories and painful agony. Over a span of five days, a group of more than 50 students traveled by chartered bus to four different locations for a wake and three funerals. During that extended weekend journey, which I refer to as the “Homegoing Caravan,” students said their goodbyes to seven of the ten black football players who perished. The trip was put together by ministers Charles Smith and Dick Miller.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama was one of four stops on a trip that covered more than 1,500 miles. Exactly one week after the crash, a joint funeral was held for the four deceased Marshall players who called Tuscaloosa home. Close to 3,000 mourners came to Druid High School to attend the service for Larry Sanders, Joe Hood, Robert VanHorn and Freddy Wilson, all of whom were graduates of Druid.
I wasn’t in attendance that same day. Instead, I said farewell to my best friend Scottie Reese at his homegoing in Waco, Texas. From what I’ve been told, the sheer magnitude of grief on display in Tuscaloosa was overwhelming for everyone in attendance.
That was probably to be expected. I remember the deep sadness I felt as I sat in the sanctuary and stared at Scotties’ closed casket. I could only imagine what it must have felt like for the folks in Alabama, especially the family members. To sit there and look at four closed caskets positioned side by side, was surely a gut-wrenching experience that will never be forgotten.
It’s been over forty-one years since that day, but the folks in “T-town” haven’t forgotten. Last week, a permanent exhibit to honor the memory of Sanders, Hood, VanHorn and Wilson was put on public display at the newly-opened Warner Transportation Museum in Tuscaloosa.
The exhibit did attract media coverage. The article “Tuscaloosa to remember football players killed in 1970 Marshall plane crash …” was posted on al.com, a state-wide, all-news website that covers all of Alabama. The story was written by Chris Pow, a sports journalist who covers Tuscaloosa and the western part of the state. Click here to read Pow's article. Once you’re on the site, you can click on the photo of the exhibit and enlarge it.