Wednesday, November 14, 2012

40+ years ago: it’s as if it happened yesterday

Memorial Fountain on the Marshall U. campus
       Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the worst aviation disaster in the history of American sports.          
       The night of November 14, 1970 was filled with unspeakable horror. The Southern Airways DC-9 jet carrying Marshall University’s football team, coaches, administrators and supporters, crashed into the side of a mountain and exploded. There were no survivors.
       The calendar confirms that the plane crash is a historic event that happened a very long time ago. Yet, my senses and my memory scream to differ. My recollections remain vivid. It still seems as if the crash happened yesterday.
        I played ball with most of the players on were on that plane. Had it not been for a decision I made to quit the team a year earlier, it’s quite possible that my life would’ve ended over four decades ago.
        This time of year is always a mixed bag for me. Memories of that night do not erase the enormous sense of loss that all of us felt. It forces me to wonder what might have been if there had never been a crash.
        Even though it was such a devastating time, there is a flip side to this. Eventually, there was cause for jubilation and celebration. In spite of near-decimation, Marshall did not kick its football program to the curb. The Thundering Herd endured some trying times, some frustrating times.
        But in the end, grit and perseverance fueled a comeback that is arguably the greatest in the history of college sports. After the crash, it took about a decade-and-a-half before the program would shed its losing image. Once that happened, the Herd was off and running. By the 1990s, Marshall had emerged a legitimate power. During that decade, no college football team in America won more games than the Thundering Herd.
       The ‘90s serves as a fitting tribute to those who perished in 1970. It was only right that Marshall continued the job that they had started so many years before.
       The 1970 Thundering Herd will never be forgotten.
       Click on video tab and watch the “November Ever After video tribute”

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