HUNTINGTON — Each fall, there is a solemn ceremony when the Memorial Fountain at Marshall University is silenced.
But rarely is the occasion marked the following spring when the fountain is turned back on.
This year was different.
The 36-year-old fountain -- dedicated to the 75 Marshall football players, coaches and Huntington community members who lost their lives in a 1970 plane crash -- went through an extensive renovation this winter. The fountain was rededicated Wednesday during a ceremony that included an appearance from Gov. Joe Manchin, among others.
“The sun has risen again in Huntington and on the campus of Marshall University,” the governor said. “But we have not forgotten those who came before us.”
And, the governor said, as it is traditional to make a wish by a fountain, Manchin made a public wish that the campus landmark will endure “for ages.”
The fountain formerly consisted of a sculpture atop a cement base painted blue. University officials said the base was beginning to crack and was in need of repair.
In January, the sculpture was lifted by crane from the base, which was then redone in granite. Other improvements included the replacement of all water piping and electrical wiring, and granite covers over the light fixtures. Also, piping and wiring were visible in the old fountain. The new piping and wiring are concealed.
“I think it’s a beautiful artistic expression befitting the sculpture,” Marshall President Stephen Kopp said of the improvements. “If those folks involved with the original fountain could see this, I think they would really like it.
“It’s a memorial all of us can look at and be proud of,” he added. “There’s something, I think, about granite that is very permanent.”
During the dedication ceremony, Kopp told the assembled crowd that university officials were very cautious that the project be done “the right way.”
“This project embodies in all ways the true meaning of the phrase ‘We are Marshall,’” Kopp said. “We all know that this fountain is the centerpiece of the campus, and, as such, we knew how important it was to do it right ... We did it right and we did it well.”
Michelle Craig, whose father died in the crash, said the fountain is of vital importance to those connected to the tragedy.
“If you were around in November of 1970, you know the presence of this structure washes your very soul,” she said. “We are here in the spring time when all things are made new ... and soon this fountain will sing with the souls of our loved ones.”