Today I want to take a little break from talking about politics. I want to take a moment to remember all of those who died in the collapse of the Bonfire at Texas A&M University and all first responders and students who helped out after the collapse. As per tradition, Bonfire was always burned the night before we played the University of Texas. In 1999 though, it was never lit.
Seventeen years ago today, a tragedy struck A&M. For the first time in its history, it collapsed and killed 12 people and injured 27 others. Today is a solemn day for all Aggies. It is one filled with mourning for the members of the Aggie family we lost on that awful day.
Bonfire collapsed at 2:42 a.m. on November 18th, 1999. In the hours following the collapse, first responders worked carefully to move the logs aside and search for people that had been trapped under the collapsed logs.
A couple of hours after the collapse, the bodies of students were starting to be found. By the time the University President held a press conference the next morning, 4 students were confirmed dead. Throughout the remainder of the day, the stack continued to be picked apart by rescuers, searching for more people trapped within.
It was an extremely long and harrowing day. Since many of the logs were removed by hand, everyone was exhausted physically and emotionally. It took over 24 hours to finish the process of moving logs and searching for people underneath.
A memorial service was held in Reed Arena where students and Texas A&M faculty gathered with families of the dead and injured. The Texas Governor at the time, George W. Bush, and his wife Laura Bush and father and mother, George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush, were all in attendance.
Today I saw a video shared on Facebook of the bell tower on the University of Texas campus playing “The Spirit of Aggieland” as a display of solidarity with all Aggies. It was quite moving. Here is the link if you’d like to listen.
With all of that said … softly call the muster, let comrades answer “Here”.
Featured image courtesy of http://www.aggienetwork.com/media/aggie-facebook-timeline-photos.aspx