Kopp

By DR. STEPHEN J. KOPP

HUNTINGTON -- The uplifting events of Dec. 12 will be etched in our memories for many, many years.

As president and on behalf of the entire Marshall University community, I wish to extend our most sincere and heartfelt gratitude to everyone associated with the event planning, sponsorship and presentation of the Huntington premiere of "We Are Marshall." The evening was a magnificent showcase for our university, city and state.

It also was a compelling testament to the extraordinary power of people and organizations united by a common purpose. This endeavor was an immense and complex undertaking, one that required intricate and extensive coordination, collaboration and communication among people and organizations that ordinarily do not work together. The multiple venues involved produced many challenges, but we prevailed in ways that made us all proud.

The Marshall University Memorial Student Center was transformed into a grand and elegant showpiece decked in Marshall green and white with all the Hollywood trimmings. The adorning of the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center brought out the grandeur of this grand old lady of Huntington. And, the spectacular transformation of the civic arena to a gorgeous nightclub and entertainment venue was amazing.

The evening was magical. We have received many laudatory accounts of the evening from many points of view. These personal stories have been very gratifying, but the credit belongs to the hundreds of people associated with the planning and organization of these events.

Thank you to each and every one of you.

The decision for Marshall University to partner in this movie production was not an easy one. After repeated meetings with the film's creators, McG and Basil Iwanyk, I became convinced that these creative individuals were not only earnest in their dedication to telling our story in a sensitive way, but that over time their commitment to filming in Huntington would immerse them in our community in ways that would help them learn how to tell the story from the inside out.

That anticipated metamorphosis did occur, and they each have become a part of the Marshall community. For everyone who has seen the final product, you know they kept their word to us.

Regardless of the level of success this movie experiences, financial or otherwise, we know that very good things were accomplished here in our hometown by working together. To me, that may be the most important lesson learned from "We Are Marshall" -- a better future is a spirit that emanates from within each of us and when we commit to it, the possibilities and what can be accomplished are endless. And if any proof is needed, on a beautiful December evening in 2006 our beloved Huntington became the capital of the movie entertainment world.

On behalf of Marshall University, thank you. Whether you were a volunteer, a major sponsor of the event who walked the green carpet, a spectator who cheered from the nearby bleachers or someone who watched on your television from your living room, we all share in the creation of this majestic and memorable evening.

While many in this community still feel the terrible loss from Nov. 14, 1970, we can now add to our heritage a new chapter that celebrates our passion, strength and resiliency as West Virginians and as members of the Marshall family.

As we enter this New Year, let us build on this legacy and renew our commitment to fulfilling the promise of a better tomorrow for those we serve.

Kopp is Marshall University's president.

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