Monday, June 4, 2012

Encouragement in the wake of Marshall plane crash

NOVEMBER 15, 1970
       It’s a very somber Sunday and it’s also the day after the Marshall plane crash.  The stark reality that nobody wanted to face began to settle in people’s minds. Shock, dismay and bewilderment overwhelmed the university and the city of Huntington, West Virginia.
       On a dreary Saturday night, Marshall University lost most of its football team in a horrible crash as the team’s DC-9 jet attempted to land at Tri-State Airport. The Thundering Herd was making its return trip from a road game against East Carolina University.
       Thirty-seven football players, most of the coaching staff, several school administrators and a host of MU boosters lost their lives. There were no survivors among the seventy-five passengers on board.
       A memorial service was held on Sunday night at Memorial Fieldhouse, the off-campus arena where Marshall played its home basketball games. Dr. Donald Dedmon, who had become Marshall’s acting president at that time, addressed a close-to-capacity crowd of about 7,000 people who attended that service.
       The impact of what happened on the night of November 14, 1970 was devastating. Looking back on this in retrospect, it’s clear that Dr. Dedmon faced a difficult task in attempting to provide some sense of solace for a school and a community in deep mourning.
       Even to this day, the Marshall plane crash is still considered to be the worst aviation disaster in the history of sports in America.
       Dr. Dedmon gave the audience much to ponder as he spoke. What I still find to be so noteworthy about what said that night was a reference he made to why he believed in immortality.
       Here’s an excerpt from what Dr. Dedmon said.
       “Belief in God and in immortality thus gives us the moral strength and the ethical guidance we need for virtually every action in our daily lives. In our modern world many people seem to feel that science has somehow made such ‘religious ideas’ untimely or old-fashioned.
       But I think science has a real surprise for the skeptics. Science, for instance, tells us that nothing in nature, not even the tiniest particle, can disappear without a trace. Think about that for a moment. Once you do, your thoughts about life will never be the same.
       Science has found that nothing can disappear without a trace. Nature does not know extinction. All it knows is transformation!
       Now, if God applies this fundamental principle to the most minute and insignificant parts of His universe, doesn't it make sense to assume that He applies it also to the masterpiece of His creation – the human soul? I think it does.
      And everything science has taught me – and continues to teach me – strengthens my belief in the continuity of our spiritual existence after death. Nothing disappears without a trace.”

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