Members of the Class of 1969 gathered in the newly built Spirit Plaza Tuesday morning to dedicate the memorial to Texas A&M.
The new addition is located in the heart of campus in front of Academic Plaza, stretching from the intersection of Houston Street and Old Main Drive to the A&M seal on Military Walk. The area houses the Muster and Silver Taps statues that previously stood in Academic Plaza, along with new plaques created to commemorate some of A&M’s most solemn traditions. While three of the plaques recognize Muster, Silver Taps and the plaza itself, one is dedicated to a letter by Donald Coward — a freshman cadet who wrote about his experience at Silver Taps before dying in a car accident in 1968. Coward’s letter is read at Fish Camp each year during the Silver Taps presentation.
University president Michael Young and several class agents spoke to the crowd about the importance of recognizing the history of A&M’s Muster and Silver Taps traditions through the monuments. With the class agents of 1969 and 2019 present, the plaza was given to the Class of 2019 to watch over and eventually add to in 50 years.
Former student body president Amy Sharp spoke at the event as a representative of the Class of 2019. She was first contacted by Spirit Plaza committee member Bill Zemanek about the plaza two years ago and said the offer seemed too good to be true at the time.
“They weren’t asking us for money; they were asking us for support and stewardship,” Sharp said. “It’s really exciting to be apart of that decision; to have an opportunity for the Class of 2019 to continue the legacy of the Class of 1969 and also to eventually play a part in the plaza.”
Bill Maddox, 1969 class agent, said the plaza isn’t meant to bring recognition for his class, but to represent the A&M family.
“There are so many of us involved that have done so much,” Maddox said. “There’s no bricks that say ‘so and so donated this,’ because that’s not what its about. It’s about A&M. The day youenter this campus and enroll in a class, you’re a member of a family.”
A quote from agricultural communications and journalism senior and Battalion Photo Chief, Cassie Stricker was engraved on the plaza’s Silver Taps monument. The quote reads, “Being an Aggie means standing with your Aggie family to honor the brothers and sisters who were taken all too soon. When you choose to attend Silver Taps, you are choosing to be a living representation of the Aggie Spirit.”
The line was originally written for a column which focused on the importance of attending Silver Taps.
“I’m still mind-blown,” Stricker said. “I’m very thankful to the Class of 1969 for being so welcoming. I think they especially loved that I am Class of 2019, so I was 50 years after them. Being included is such an unexpected honor.”
In his speech, Young emphasized the generational connection between all Aggies and said he is proud of how the Class of 2019 has embodied A&M’s core values.
“This spirit is embodied in everything you do, everything you say, in the way in which you treat each other and what you intend to do with your education,” Young said. “That comes from a history of the Class of 1969, and that comes from a history of 1919.”