Sunday, November 18, 2012

11.18.99

Thirteen years ago today, the town that I grew up in and the university that I went to were forever changed.

On November 18, 1999 at 2:42 am, the Aggie Bonfire collapsed, killing 12 students and injuring 27 others. This was no ordianry backyard bonfire... The Aggie Bonfire was a 90 year tradtion. The Bonfire consisted of 5000+ logs, standing 40+ feet high.

If you know anything about Texas A&M, you know the school revolves around tradition. “The Bonfire symbolizes two things. A burning desire to beat the team from the University of Texas, and the undying flame of love that every loyal Aggie carries in his heart for the school.” The Bonfire was lit every year the week of Thanksgiving before the Texas A&M vs the University of Texas football game.


I was 14 years old when the Bonfire collapsed. I was not {yet} a student at Texas A&M. But I grew up in College Station. I've been an Aggie my whole life. And I knew one of the students that died in the Bonfire collapse. It was heartbreaking.








That note reads: "To Our Fallen Aggies, I want you all to wear my ring today. Since you who have passed will never get to experience the joy and happieness I was fortunate enough to feel, I want you all to have my ring for a while. You will remain in our hearts forever. Jeff Whiling '00"

On November 25, 1999, the date that Bonfire would have burned, Aggies held a candlelight vigil. Over 40,000 people in attendance lit candles and stood in silence. Later that night at Midnight Yell, Parsons Mounted Cavalry fired the cannon 12 times, once for each victim. President George H. W. Bush and President {Govenor at the time} George W. Bush were in attendance.

On November 26, 1999, Texas A&M and UT took the field in College Station. The game began with a flyover of F-16 jets {all flown by Aggie former students} in the missing man formation. At halftime, the Texas Longhorn Band dedicated their performance to the students lost and injured while holding Texas A&M flags. The Longhorn Band ended their performance by playing Amazing Grace and Taps then removing their white hats out of respect. The Aggie Band also played tribute to the Bonfire victims by marching off the field in a silence.


Texas A&M beat the University of Texas 20-16 that year.



 Take the time to watch the video below. Thirteen years later it still brings me to tears.
{sorry for the poor video quality, but techonolgy just wasn't great in 1999}

4 comments:

Jessyka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessyka said...

What a great remembrance post! I have always been a huge TAMU fan and love the tradition that A&M stands for. We will always remember.

So what are we suppose to do this Thanksgiving with no A&M game? I actually have to pick out and outfit to wear!

Carolyn said...

WOW! What a post! I've never really heard about the bonfire or the tragedy, but this post seriously gave me goosebumps. Thinking about you and your Aggies!

Sunkissed and Southern said...

That is so sad. Tim Kerlee went to my high school and we graduated together.