Ceremony reinstates MSC traditions
Published: Friday, April 20, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07
Two traditions, absent three years on the A&M campus, were reinstated in anticipation of the reopening of the Memorial Student Center. As of Thursday afternoon, tradition dictates that students and visitors are to keep off the grass surrounding the MSC and remove their hats upon entering the building.
Students and faculty gathered outside the building’s “Honor” entrance — facing O.R. Simpson Drill Field — to celebrate the occasion and witness the covering of the last bit of dirt, a block T, with grass. MSC Director Luke Altendorf spoke about the significance of the “Honor” entrance, as the grass will be overlooked by seven Aggies who received the Medal of Honor during World War II and the lists of Aggies who have died in combat. Altendorf reached back to 1951 when the building was originally dedicated, citing former A&M Regent H. C. “Dulie” Bell.
“[Bell said] the MSC was not a typical, cold monument but a vibrant, living memorial of usefulness,” Altendorf said. “As we enter the building on Saturday, we will pause and give respect to the Aggies who gave the ultimate sacrifice for us with such a simple gesture as removing our hats and staying off the grass.”
R. Bowen Loftin, University president, addressed the audience, sharing his first experience at A&M — being told by his parents to stay off the grass.
“The earliest memory I have visiting Texas A&M, I’ll never forget walking on the campus with my parents and being told sternly not to walk on the grass,” Loftin said. “I was frightened actually. It was a very stern warning not to do this. It wasn’t explained. I learned that later on why, but it stuck with me all those years.”
MSC President Elizabeth Andrasi, Class of 2011, explained why traditions were temporarily suspended. Andrasi said former MSC President Stephanie Burns decided it would be better these two traditions be put on hold in order to allow construction workers to wear required safety equipment — including hardhats — without implying disrespect.
For students who have yet to experience the MSC, these traditions will be a reminder of the importance of memorials on campus. Loftin said traditions such as these are important to students because of what they represent.
“[These traditions] just drive home again the memorial aspects of the campus,” Loftin said. “Traditions aren’t mindless; they actually have a purpose and these two have real purposes to show honor to those who died for our country … This is adding to the tapestry of what A&M is all about.”
For upperclassmen, the replanting of the grass was a sign the campus is once again whole. Pat Reeves, senior biomedical sciences major and Corps Commander, said compared the MSC opening to moving into a new house the owner has waited to be finished.
“You put the purchase down on the house, you get the contract ready, you do the inspections. We’ve done all these tours, now its time to go and live in the house,” Reeves said. “The replanting of the grass feels like we’re signing on the dotted line and the campus is whole again.”
Reeves said having these traditions reinstated will recharge the University as it continues to grow and reach for greatness.
“The idea that we are taking our hats off, we are staying off the grass, really the vibrancy of campus is going to start coming back,” Reeves said. “The identity of Texas A&M is going to be firmly in place now. We’re going to continue to strive for excellence now that we have our place to celebrate and remember those who have gone before us in the MSC.”