Students reflect on impact of Silver Taps letters
Traditions Council works to comfort grieving families
Published: Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 18:02
Every month for Silver Taps, students are encouraged to participate in a tradition that began when Sul Ross died — writing letters to the grieving families, assuring them the Aggie family grieves as well.
Traditions Council facilitates the tradition today and there are places on campus where students can write letters in remembrance of deceased students, said Ryan Johnson, junior mechanical engineering major and campus relations sub-committee chair for Traditions Council.
Last semester, Traditions Council collected about 330 letters in September and 856 in November, Johnson said.
“I cannot begin to explain how much these letters mean to the families,” Johnson said. “To show that we as the Aggie family are there for them and support them through such a tragic time in their lives brings a little bit of comfort. It is a way to show that the Aggie family will always be there for the families and it shows that we truly are a family, not just a student body.”
The process is not limited to those who personally knew the student. Cindi Kepic, sophomore ecological restoration major, knew a student who passed away in May. She said it is almost better if letters come from students who did not know the fallen personally because the grief is fresh during Silver
“I think before, I sort of assumed that writing was more for people that knew the person, and after Travis I realized that it’s so much harder to write it when you knew the person,” Kepic said. “It’s almost like you would rather they get letters from people who didn’t know them because it hurts you so much to write it. The people who are closer to him I know didn’t write letters because they couldn’t put their thoughts down on paper.”
Jon Bumann, sophomore political science major and member of Traditions Council, writes a letter every month Silver Taps takes place.
“Whether we personally know them or not, I feel it’s important that we are there for every part of our family and that means giving all the comfort we can give to their families in a time when they really need it,” Bumann said.
Johnson said there are few limitations on what students can include in their letters. The purpose is to let the families know the Aggies are thinking about them.
Johnson said a father of a deceased Aggie came to the Silver Taps table once and wrote a letter. He told Johnson how comforted he was to receive letters from Aggies.
“That put it all in perspective for me,” Johnson said. “We really do make a difference. Writing these letters really does impact these families.”
Since her friend passed last May, Kepic said she has written a letter every Silver Taps. She said the letters are one way A&M sets itself apart from other schools. That A&M has so many letters from students who knew or didn’t know the deceased really comforts the family and friends, she said.
“I think it’s important because after you lose someone, one of the things that you really want is for everyone to realize what the world is missing without them,” Kepic said.
Once the letters are collected by Traditions Council, they are passed on to Student Assistance Services, which then passes the letters to the families. Tables are set up from 9:30 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. at Sbisa Hall, MSC 12th Man Hall, the Quad and Rudder Plaza. There will also be a drop box placed in the Student Activities office in Koldus where students can drop letters through the week.