I Guess I’m Still Marshall
I’m not a very good Marshall Alumni. I don’t contribute financially to the Alumni Association because that place took $40 grand from me over the course of 5 years, I’ll be damned if they’re going to get another dollar. I don’t wear the school on my sleeve or proudly wave it’s flag at the first opportunity to show my collegiate colors. I’ve got a sticker on the rear window of my car, but that’s mostly to cover up some unsightly scratch marks. I don’t watch the football or basketball games (I barely did when I attended) I don’t own the mediocre movie that was shot there my senior year (trying to class while avoiding camera rigs and movie trailers was a real bitch for two months) and unlike seemingly the majority of my classmates, I don’t feel some sort of obligation or any reverence for a plane crash that happened 13 years before I was born.
I don’t blame those that do, because that’s part of what community is all about. Whether you grew up in Huntington and were surrounded by annual memorial service your whole life or you didn’t have any prior knowledge of the event before you went to your first class. The legacy of the plane crash is a looming shadow that still hangs over the campus to this day mostly because the University encourages it, which is both good and bad depending on the context. Some do it to respect the dead. Some see it as an opportunity to get Marshall’s name in the headlines. And still, some just look at it as another day.
I’m not saying it isn’t important. I’m not saying it isn’t relevant. I’m not saying it’s bad to honor those that have passed. If your a person that can get something out of it than by all means do what you have to do. But I’m one of those people that it’s never really affected. I didn’t know anyone that passed away in the crash. Hell, I didn’t know anyone that KNEW anyone that had passed away in the crash. I often rebel against expected allegiance, so school spirit is something that has never really been something I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t go to Marshall because I had an affinity for their football team or even because I grew up anywhere near Huntington, WV. I went to Marshall because they had a good journalism program. End of story.
And yet, every year I was expected to partake in a remembrance ceremony, simply because I paid to go to school there. I don’t know about you, but being expected to care about things is the quickest way to get me to NOT care about them. Petty? Probably. Immature? Definitely. But that’s the way I’m programmed, and no matter how hard I fight it I can’t help but feel anything except disdain for people that argue that I SHOULD feel something other than apathy. I haven’t gone to school there for seven years, and I still get grief for not showing my school spirit on the anniversary of said terrible tragedy. Like changing my Facebook photo to the Marshall logo with “11/14/70 Never Forget” emblazoned on it will suddenly make me give a crap. I’m not Ebenezer Scrooge and this isn’t some collegiate version of A Christmas Carol. However if it is, I really hope Bluto is the Ghost of Christmas Present.
So yeah, I’m a terrible Marshall Alumni if you look at it through that lens. I’m sorry people died in a plane crash, but that happened way before I was born. It wasn’t my fault, and it’s not yours. If you still want to have your candlelight vigils and “WE ARE…MARSHALL” Facebook statuses, go nuts. I’m not going to stop you, but don’t give me shit for not playing along. What I got out of my time at Marshall University (lasting friendships, life experience, a garbage diploma, meeting my wife) I wouldn’t change for the world, but I’m also not going to adhere to some faux faithfulness to University tradition nearly a decade after I stopped paying tuition and moved away.
I don’t want anyone that reads this to think I’m slamming those that mourn. I’m not, because honestly, I’d love to experience this yearly tradition through your eyes. I’m a cynical bastard so chances of that happening aren’t very high, but I don’t fault you at all. Just don’t expect me to react the same way you do, and when I let you down don’t claim that I’m not a true Marshall Alumni.
Because the fact is, I’m still Marshall. I earned that title by giving them my money. Am I proud Marshall grad? Probably not in the traditional way. Definitely not in the way that you likely are. But I’m still Marshall, and I’m fine with it. Let’s just leave it at that.