Marshall University football team memorial speech






Memorial Service
or Marshall University
Football team
Wright Auditorium
Greenville, N.C.
November 15, 1970

ON BEHALF OF GOVERNOR SCOTT, THE PEOPLE OF NORTH CAROLINA, AND ALL OF US HERE AT EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY, I WANT TO EXPRESS OUR SORROW AND GRIEF TO THE BEREAVED OF THE VICTIMS OF YESTERDAY'S TRAGIC AIRPLANE CRASH.

YESTERDAY AFTERNOON, WE IN GREENVILLE, WERE HAPPY, BECAUSE WE HAD SEEN AN EXCITING FOOTBALL GAME ON A BALMY AUTUMN AFTERNOON.





2

TODAY, THE SUN SHINES AGAIN, BUT IRONICALLY OUR HEARTS DO NOT RESPOND WITH GAITY, FOR THE JOY OF YESTERDAY IS GONE.

TODAY, INSTEAD, OUR FINITE AND LIMITED MINDS PROBE INTO THE INFINITE TRYING TO UNDERSTAND THE UNLIMITED AND THE "WHY".

THE TRAGEDY THAT SILENCED THE "THUNDERING HERD" HAS LEFT US MUTE, SICK AT HEART, DEPRESSED, AND IS BEYOND OUR COMPREHENSION.





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THE LOSS OF A WHOLE SEGMENT OF FRIENDS, THE REALITY OF VITAL AND VISIBLY ACTIVE HUMAN. BEINGS NO LONGER PHYSICALLY LIVING, THE ENORMOUS GRIEF WHICH ENGULFS FAMILIES AND FRIENDS AND THE MEMBERS OF THE STUDENT BODY, LEAVE US NUMB AND INARTICULATE, AT THE VERY TIME WE FEEL THE NEED TO EXPRESS REACTION TO THE PAIN WE FEEL.

DURING THE FIRST CRUSH OF SADNESS WE PERHAPS NEED NOT TRY TO UNDERSTAND THE DIMENSIONS OF SUCH A TRAGEDY





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INDEED, OUTSIDE THE VERSE THAT SAYS "THE LORD GIVETH AND THE LORD TAKETH AWAY," THERE IS LITTLE WAY FOR US TO UNDERSTAND THIS KIND OF LOSS.

EXPERIENCE TEACHES US THAT IT SEEKS OUT PEOPLE IN EVERY WALK OF LIFE, JUST AS IT HAS NOW REACHED INTO THE STREETS AND COVES OF WEST VIRGINIA AND THE COASTAL PLAINS OF EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA.

WE ALL WANT TO EXPOSE IN SOME ARTICULATE MANNER THE GRIEF AND SENSE OF LOSS AND HURT WE FEEL.





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AND YET, NO WORDS ARE TRULY ADEQUATE TO DESCRIBE WHAT WE FEEL OR TO PROVIDE AN AVENUE OF RELEASE FOR THE EMOTIONS TOILING WITHIN US.

YET, IN AN ATTEMPT TO RECOVER SOME RAY OF YESTERDAY'S SUNLIGHT, LET US FOCUS OUR ATTENTION POSITIVELY UPON THE IDEALS AND GOALS OF THOSE WHO HAVE LOST THEIR LIVES IN SUCH A TRAGIC MANNER.

THEY WERE YOUNG, ALIVE, VIGOROUS AND EXCITED ABOUT LIFE.





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THEIR SPIRIT WAS TYPICAL OF THE BEST IN AMERICA.

THEY WERE BEAUTIFULLY DISCIPLINED AND WORKED HARD AND FAITHFULLY FOR THEIR GOALS.

THEY BELIEVED IN HONESTY, INTEGRITY AND FAIR PLAY.

THEY STOOD FOR FRIENDSHIP AND COOPERATION AND KNEW HOW TO DEPEND UPON AND TO ASSIST THEIR NEIGHBORS, THEIR TEAM MATES.





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THEY WERE NOT AFRAID TO PLAY THE GAME OF FOOTBALL ACCORDING TO THE RULES.

THEY WORKED FOR VICTORY AND KNEW HOW TO ACCEPT IT WITHOUT HAUGHTINESS.

THEY ALSO KNOW HOW TO ACCEPT ONES DEFEAT AND NOT GIVE UP, KNOWING THAT TRUE VICTORY IN ALL OF LIFE HAS TO DO WITH POSITIVE AND UPLIFTING ATTITUDES.

PERHAPS THEY HAVE TAUGHT US IN SOME MEASURE THAT WHAT COUNTS MOST IS NOT HOW LONG WE LIVE BUT HOW WELL





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THESE WHO WERE WILLING TO SACRIFICE THEMSELVES IN TEAM EFFORT, HAVE NOW MADE THE EXTREME SACRIFICE IN THE GAME OF LIFE.

THOSE OF US WHO REMAIN MUST LOOK BEYOND OUR SENSE OF DEFEAT, AND STRIVE TO LIVE BY THE STANDARDS OF THOSE WHO WERE ABLE TO SHOW A VIGOROUS RESPONSE TO LIFE.

FOLLOWING THEIR EXAMPLE, WE NOW MUST SHOW HOW TO ACCEPT LOSS AND NOT GIVE UP.





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WE CAN NOW EXEMPLIFY THEIR DISCIPLINED LIFE EMBUED WITH A SENSE OF FAIR PLAY, WE DEPEND UPON, AND UPHOLD ONE ANOTHER.

WE WHO HAVE YET AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A VIGOROUS AND EXCITING RESPONSE TO LIFE CAN NOW BE EVEN MORE DETERMINED TO "PLAY THE GAME ACCORDING TO THE RULES" OUT OF DEEP RESPECT FOR THOSE HO NO LONGER HAVE A CHANCE TO DO SO.

LET ME MAKE A PERSONAL REFERENCE.





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I SEEKING SOLACE DURING THE FIRST HOURS FOLLOWING THE NEWS THAT CAME CONCERNING THE PLANE CRASH, FOUND THE WORDS OF A HYMN I KNEW AS A CHILD, RUNNING THROUGH MY MIND, AND SUPERCEDING ALL THE PHILOSOPHY AND ETHICS I HAVE READ AND STUDIED.

IT HELPED ME KEEP APPROPRIATE PERSPECTIVE, AT LEAST TO SOME DEGREE, AS I WAS REMINDED THIS IS GOD'S WORLD, AND THAT HE WHO CONCERNED EVEN WITH A SPARROW, IS SURELY WITH US YET.





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AS M.D. BABCOCK WROTE:

"THIS IS MY FATHER'S WORLD O LET ME NE'ER FORGET THAT THOUGH THE WRONG SEEM OFT SO STRONG GOD IS THE RULER YET.

THIS IS MY FATHER'S WORLD THE BATTLE IS NOT DONE JESUS WHO DIED SHALL BE SAT SATISFIED AND EARTH AND HEAVEN BE ONE.





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MAY I CLOSE WITH THIS ONE THOUGHT, THAT ALTHOUGH IT HAS NOT BEEN REVEALED TO US THERE MUST INDEED BE A PURPOSE OR REASON FOR THIS TRAGEDY.

I WANT TO AGAIN, AS I DID LAST NIGHT BEFORE OUR FOOTBALL TEAM, EXPRESS OUR SORROW TO THE FAMILIES OF THE PERSON ON THE PLANE AND TO THEIR ASSOCIATES BACK AT MARSHAL UNIVERSITY

GOD LESS US ALL.


Title
Marshall University football team memorial speech
Description
East Carolina University Chancellor Leo Jenkins' speech given at the memorial service to honor the Marshall University football team. The memorial service honored those who died in the plane crash on November 14, 1970. Marshall's football team was returning home from playing ECU when their plane crashed near Kenova and Ceredo, West Virginia killing 37 players, 8 coaches, 25 boosters, and 5 flight crew members. The event is also known as the Southern Airways Flight 932 tragedy.
Date
November 15, 1970
Original Format
letters
Extent
21cm x 27cm
Local Identifier
UA02.06.15.18
Subject(s)
Location of Original
University Archives
Rights
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