The plane crash dropped a veil of grief and sadness that was both palpable and paralyzing over Marshall, Huntington and the families near and far who were impacted by the tragedy.
It took a long time for the veil of grief and anguish to even begin to lift, and the grieving process has been different for each person who lost someone they loved as well as for the university as an institution and the city.
I grew up thinking about the plane crash every single day and how my life and the lives of so many people would have been different if it had not happened.
I returned 12 years after the crash to attend Marshall. Coming back to Huntington and MU was something I needed to do, and it was integral to my healing process. I needed to talk to my mom and dad’s friends and colleagues and to reconnect with many of the people and places I loved.
I believe the football team’s perseverance and eventual success provided a healing balm that helped Marshall, Huntington and the families and friends of the people who lost their lives move forward. It did not erase the heartache or the pain, but it did provide some joy and hope for those who lost loved ones who were nearly all young and in the prime of their lives. Even 50 years has not erased the pain associated with the crash, and for many it is still too painful to attend services or to talk about the plane crash, but it has been helpful to many of us that there is a memorial service each year to remember those who died and a beautiful fountain in the center of campus that commemorates those lives.
They have been gone for a long time, but they have not been forgotten.