For 47 years, the Marshall University community has gathered around the Memorial Fountain in the heart of campus to honor 75 football players, coaches and fans who were lost in an airplane crash in 1970. This year, however, there was a unique addiction. For the first time, the keynote speaker was someone born after the crash.
Fisher Cross is the grandson of crash victims Pete and Courtney Proctor.
“At first my response was ‘wow, are you kidding me?’,” said Cross, “I still have peach fuzz on my face.”
Cross is a current Marshall student and works with the football team as a videographer, spending Saturdays filming Thundering Herd games, home and away. Cross says working with the Herd helps him connect to the grandparents he never met.
“I wanted to be involved with Marshall Football on the inside,” Cross told the crowd Tuesday, “because it helps me feel closer to my grandparents, who loved it dearly”
Cross spoke to the crowd about the importance of the Marshall community and the strength their shared tragedy has created.
“This University understands better than any that if you work hard enough, and love something hard enough and you care for something hard enough, you can accomplish anything,” Cross said. “I think I’m an example of that. Here 47 years later, two people who were on that plane, their grandson is still here.”
Cross said he wanted the speech to especially resonate with his peers, the thousands of students gathered at the fountain. One student in attendance says Cross may be more closely connected to the tragedy than most, his speech highlighted the unique experience of Marshall students decades after the deadly crash.
“Even though someone who’s my age we weren’t directly impacted, we weren’t involved… We still feel the loss, we still feel the spirit,” said Marshall University senior Alex Lover, “It showed that this will always be here, it will never go away.”