An annual ceremony takes place at the Memorial Student Fountain at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. The water to the fountain is turned off in November and is not turned until the Spring. This is done in remembrance of the tragic plane crash in 1970 that took the lives of almost all of the members of the university’s football team and coaching staff.
We Are Marshall was a film that was released in 2006 which is based on the events of this heart wrenching story. A documentary called “Ashes to Glory” and the book “Real Tragedy, Real Triumph” also center on the subject.
The film stars Matthew McConaughey as head coach Jack Lengyel, who is brought in to accomplish the impossible task of rebuilding a whole team and a community, after such a devastating loss. Matthew Fox ( of TV Series LOST fame) plays William “Red” Dawson, the Assistant Coach, who by a simple change in plans, missed the fateful flight that took the lives of all his colleagues and student athletes.
Fox turns in a riveting performance and shows signs of the acting depth that he would bring to LOST. McConaughey brings in one of the better performances of his career. He is a natural fit to this character who is able to not only lift a football team up to competitive play, but to to resuscitate an entire community back to life again.
We Are Marshall goes beyond the typical sports movie. It is etched with the real sense of a story so much bigger than the frames of the film that is trying to contain it. It is about the wasteful loss of youth before their time. It is about loss of loved ones and its effect on a community.
What is redeeming about We Are Marshall is that even after such a loss, there is still the ability to come together to build again, to live again, to win again. Loss does not need to be the end of the game.
You can pick yourself up again. You can work together. You can rally. You can win. It is much more than making a touch down. It is about coming together as human beings and making a difference.
Rent the DVD.
Just a short note:
We see losses today in such remote areas as Myanmar and in the earthquake ridden provinces of China. We see losses across battlefields, in many nations, young lives being bartered and strewn down for various causes. We see losses of young lives due to drugs, famine and disease. We see the violence of our streets cut down the very young. I hope that the message of We Are Marshall inspires all of us to work to stop the losses and to let our youth live.