Tragedy doesn’t dim love, pride of Thundering Herd

Suzie Parker Oliver is guest columnist.

We are Marshall. First, there was the cheer. Rowdy carefree college kids chanted it at sporting events. We are (clap, clap) Marshall (clap, clap). We laughed in victory and defeat.

Next, there was the tragedy. Players, coaches and fans went down in a horrifying plummet into the side of a West Virginia mountain.

Our minds were as befuddled as the foggy dreary November night of “the plane crash” as it is now remembered in our collective conscience.

Our hearts were rent in two by the searing ache of loss. We grieved and we wept. It would be decades before we saw a winning Thundering Herd.

Then there was the 1992 national championship. Many players who won that crown were born in 1970, the year of the plane crash.

To the nation, at least those who even noticed, it was just a title. In Herd Country, it was balm for an old familiar wound. We began to heal.

Finally, there was the movie.

Hollywood came to Huntington and told our tale in an amazingly tender way.

We sat in darkened theaters proudly wearing our green and white. We cheered at plays executed decades before, miraculously brought back to life before our very eyes. We laughed, we wept and we healed even more.

Time, that always faithful healer, has given us 40 years since the plane crash. Countless students have walked the tree-filled campus of Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va. Many young men have worn the colors and thundered onto playing fields. Thousands of lives have been touched and changed. And still ...

We Are Marshall!

Suzie Parker Oliver graduated from Marshall University. She is a fourth-grade teacher at Hanahan Elementary. She lives in Hanahan with her husband, Page Oliver.