This is why we are…Marshall


From the Nov. 14, 1970 edition of The Parthenon

Taylor Stuck, Managing Editor

I’m not from Huntington.

I didn’t grow up hearing storiesabout that tragic night in 1970. No one in my family knew someone who died.

I didn’t even know about the plane crash until I saw the movie my sophomore year of high school when they showed it one day in gym class.

You have to understand something; I grew up in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia. Mountaineer Country. It wasn’t that my family hated Marshall (my dad got his master’s degree here); it just wasn’t feasible. We don’t get Marshall games on TV. Our local news doesn’t cover Mar-shall sports, let alone anything else.

How many of us have a similar story?

What drew me to Marshall University was the history. Walking on campus, I felt right at home next to Old Main. It was an immediate feel-ing of “this is right.” The Marshall Hall of Fame Café, the first Huntington restaurant I ate at, told a story about the town. The highlight of that first tour? The fountain. Sitting in the middle of the plaza on a beautiful summer day, serving as a constant reminder there was something bigger, something more motivating us.

I loved every bit of this campus and city.

The tragedy is a huge part of that history.

Because of that history, we are all connected. I may not have a personal connection to the victims, but it is not hard to sit back and think, “What if I lost my sports editor?”

Looking at the Nov. 18, 1970, memorial edition of The Parthenon, it’s hard to not be moved to tears. It is incomprehensible to me the staff was able to come back four days later and produce a 20-page newspaper after losing one of their own. There was more than an empty seat – Jeff Nathan was missing.

“It was unusual to walk into The Parthenon office and not see Jeff Nathan pounding away at his type-writer, always energetic,” Wayne Faulkner, editor-in-chief, wrote in his memorial editorial. “It was un-usual to see always cheerful friends with tears in their eyes. And at that time I joined and cried too – not in sobs, but in tearful shock, tears which force themselves out even when sounds do not.”

I hope it’s something I never truly feel, but it’s not hard to imagine what it would be like. A football player can look at his teammate and think, “What if I lost my best friend?”

We can all think that. We can all have that connection. We can all feel a tiny sliver of how that must have felt.

That is why we are Marshall.

It’s why I still get choked up when the whole stadium chants that in unison.

I may not be a Huntington native. I may not have been alive when the tragedy took place. But when I made the decision to be a daughter of Mar-shall, I took on that history as my own.

“As life goes on the tears will fade and grief will fade—

An empty green will echo cheers again —

But memories of those who watched and played —

For the Sons of Marshall ever will remain.”

Leslie Flowers

News editor, ‘70

Taylor Stuck can be contacted at [email protected].