Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Anniversary of Aggie Bonfire Tragedy

The 18th marks the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the Aggie Bonfire. Leaguers will remember the bonfire as one of the great traditions not just in sports, but a great Texas tradition.

It was always mind-boggling to hear about the bonfire, a massive, multi-story structure that was built by students, and whose eventual torching was the social event of each year at Texas A&M for many students and alumni. The fire, of course, was Texas A&M's good-natured effigy of UT, and the fire was equal parts man-made wonder and joke. Unfortunately, unforeseen construction issues occurred with the fire being built for the 1999 UT/ TAMU match-up, and the tower fell, killing 12 students.

I was working on campus at UT at the time, and what I remember was the shock on campus, and the line that went around the mall in front of the tower as students queued to give blood, unsure of what else to do. Neither students nor staff could imagine what must have been going on at the Texas A&M campus.

Anyway, the ensuing years have certainly not meant that people have forgotten. Texas A&M has erected a very nice memorial to the students, and memories of the bonfire are still a favorite topic of conversation among Aggies and friends who were able to ever see the fire.

I am not sure what Aggies do these days prior to the game. But Aggie spirit is something to behold (and fear a bit, if you're a Longhorn on gameday), and hasn't flagged a bit in the years since the tragedy.

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