Aggie Bonfire was born from the Aggie Spirit. Motivated by a strong desire to show their love for Texas A&M, cadets burned the first Fightin’ Texas Aggie Bonfire to celebrate a football victory. As the tradition grew, the spirit stayed the same.
This spirit is still alive, perhaps stronger, after the 1999 collapse.
When Aggies gather at Bonfire Memorial at 2:42 a.m., it is a time to remember the students we lost, students who demonstrated what it truly means to be an Aggie. It is said when you step into one of the 12 portals that surround the Spirit Ring, you are stepping into that student’s life for a moment. The 12th Man doesn’t just stand at football games — we stand to honor our fallen.
Bonfire Remembrance is reminiscent of that initial gathering of Aggies, those cadets simply wanting to celebrate their love for their school. We come together every Nov. 18 to demonstrate our respect for our past. We will never forget where we came from, especially after the period of changes Texas A&M has undergone.
We will never forget. This is why Bonfire Remembrance is so important. Bonfire should not be remembered only as a tragedy. It was a time where camaraderie and teamwork were at the forefront of every Aggie’s mind. It was a time when the Aggie family came together. Bonfire will never be gone as long as the Aggie Spirit survives. Bonfire was a tangible symbol of what Aggies can do when they band together with a common goal. Together, we can achieve anything.
It is with the Aggie Spirit that we honor our past and envision our future — a future where the togetherness and pride that Bonfire fostered thrives. Our past created the foundation for Aggies today; our service and respect are clear evidence of that.
The future of Bonfire Remembrance has officially been passed to the students. Previously, the Bonfire families organized the ceremony, but now Traditions Council has taken that role. Traditions Council is striving to ensure that 20, 30 or even 50 years from now, students will know what Bonfire meant to this campus and how hurt it was after the collapse. It is not just the responsibility of Traditions Council, however, to see that this ceremony continues. It is also yours.
Bonfire Remembrance is a chance to reflect on what Bonfire means to you. For some it was a joyful experience — time spent building this symbol of the Aggie spirit with their classmates. For most students, Bonfire is a remote tradition spoken about only in the past, something that will never be fully understood or experienced by current and future students. This ceremony provides an opportunity for both views to unite as one, if only for a moment.
Yes, it will be cold. Yes, it’s early. But as the 12th Man, this shouldn’t matter. Bonfire Remembrance needs to be held with the same reverence that Silver Taps and Muster are held. Aggies honoring Aggies — this will never change. Make Bonfire Remembrance a priority. The Aggie Family will honor those we lost in 1999, together. Bonfire may have evolved as a tradition, but the Aggie Spirit remains the same.
During the roll call Tuesday morning for the twelve, all Aggies will carry the message of Bonfire. Those lost will always be “here.” We will always remember.
Allyson Heil is a member of the E. King Gill subcommittee and agricultural communications and journalism senior.