Thursday, November 18, 2010

Remember Bonfire

My dad is an Aggie. He is not just any Aggie...he is a maroon breathing, Gig 'Em thumb throwing, stick an owl on a rake Aggie! This is something I am really thankful for because he has passed his love for Texas A&M University on to me. Since before I can even remember I knew I was going to be an Aggie. My dad attends every home football game, Muster, and before 2009 every Aggie Bonfire.

The first Aggie Bonfire began in the early 1900's as a pile of wood and trash next to the train station. The cadets decided to make a Bonfire to congratulate the football team on their win. Although this first Bonfire was held in the early morning hours of November 18, 1907, the first on-campus Aggie Bonfire was not held until 1909.
Bonfire grew immensely through the years. The largest Bonfire was in 1969 and stood 109ft., which is only one foot shorter than Rudder tower. After that, the administration decided to regulate the Bonfire height to 55ft. (From the Texas A&M Traditions Council website.)
When I was younger, before the Texas A&M vs tu football game, my dad and I would make the five and half hour drive up to College Station. The second we arrived my dad would throw my up on his shoulders and begin the trek across campus to the polo field where the Bonfire was built. I can remember being amazed at how tall the structure was, and when they set the cake like tower on fire I thought that my face was going to melt off the heat was so intense. It was AMAZING. The comradeship and unity that surrounded us was surreal. I could not wait to be a part of such an amazing tradition as a student.
There have been two years that Bonfire did not burn. First, in 1963, following the death of President John F. Kennedy, the senior class made one of the most difficult decision of their time at Texas A&M. In honor of their president, they decided to dismantle the Bonfire, which had recently been completed. The head yell leader at the time, Mike Marlowe, was quoted as saying, "It is the most we have and the least we can give."
The second time that Bonfire was built and did not burn was in 1999. On November 18th, Bonfire fell, taking 12 of our fellow Aggies with it. This day was one of the most trying days for Aggies everywhere. At this time, Bonfire has been postponed indefinitely and no one knows if Bonfire will return. The Aggie Spirit has created the Aggie Traditions and that Aggie Spirit will thrive through the trying times. (From the Texas A&M Traditions Council website.)
I remember November 18, 1999 like it was yesterday. I was a freshman in high school. As I got ready for school, I turned on GMA and their top story was the collapse of Bonfire at Texas A&M. I immediately ran to my dad's room, but he already knew. My grandmother called me to let me know that my cousin Karl had been relieved from his duties on the build an hour prior to the collapse. For that I was very grateful. I felt for the families that had lost loved ones and prayed for those that were injured.

I cannot even fathom what it was like to be a student at the time of the tragedy, but my boyfriend Josh was a sophomore at the time. He talks about how the students on campus felt distraught and helpless. However, the Aggie Spirit could not snuffed, and it continued to thrive specifically at the memorial held at Kyle Field.
It was also apparent at the football game held that next week. The stadium was alive with emotion, and the Aggie Spirit and devotion is what truly led to an Aggie victory.

Follow the link below to watch a video that truly lets you see what the days following the collapse of bonfire was like:

I was a student when the bonfire memorial was finally finished and dedicated. It is a moving tribute to those who lost their lives on November 18, 1999. Twelve students lost their lives when bonfire fell bringing a whole new meaning to the "Home of the Twelfth Man."

I am very thankful that I was able to experience a burning Aggie Bonfire, and I am so thankful that my father blessed me with the opportunity to attend Texas A&M University. It is an amazing place, and the Aggie family is unlike any other. We will always remember those twelve Aggies that lost their lives 11 years ago. Their spirits are alive along with the Spirit of Aggieland.

No comments:

Post a Comment