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The Steel Mill Fanfare

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“In the middle of Huntington, West Virginia there’s a river. Next to this river there is a steel mill. And next to the steel mill there is a school. In the middle of the school, there is a fountain. Each year on the exact same day, at the exact same hour, the water to this fountain is turned off. And in this moment once every year, throughout the town, throughout the school, time stands still.”

Every year, November 14th, this quote is spoken in respect and in remembrance of the victims of the devastating 1970 plane crash. As a freshman, I left my first fountain ceremony with a true understanding of the word “community.” People across the city and the campus came. It was a moment of reverence. A moment so sacred that it felt as if the world stopped spinning and time stopped just for this moment.

Attending this ceremony year after year, I found myself as a senior at the same ceremony on the same date three years later listening to the same quote with the same community and grieving for the fourth and last time as a student of Marshall. We grieved together and bonded. This time, there arose a sense of pride towards the end. This place I called home meant something completely different than the place I called my college at the beginning.

The amphitheater on the river became my haven. The fountain became a pillar of remembrance. The school became a family. The steel mill? It ran every day. Rain or shine, every day. Nothing ever stopped it. Every day of college, I looked at that steel mill from Smith Music hall in wonder and it quickly became one of the sights I missed the most when I graduated.