Six of our classmates did not attend Gig ‘Em Week. Their parents did not lend them a hand during campus Move In. Their friends will go to Friday’s Midnight Yell without them, and they will never stand with the 12th Man on Saturdays again.
A life cut so abruptly short is agony to loved ones, but Silver Taps offers a concrete example of just how integral these sons and daughters were to campus. And while thousands will gather Tuesday evening to honor the fallen in Academic Plaza, there is an aspect of Silver Taps too often overlooked — Silver Taps letters.
Silver Taps letters are handwritten condolences given to the families of the deceased after the ceremony — they are a beautiful reminder that each family does not mourn alone.
It is hard to write about someone you never knew, to a family you’ve never met, regarding a tragedy you can’t comprehend. The deceased may have studied on the opposite side of campus; their family may hold a different faith, and they may not even speak your language.
Write a letter anyway. Write about what Silver Taps means to you and how honored you are to have shared campus with their son or daughter. Show them that there are no strangers in Academic Plaza on a first Tuesday — there’s family.
Traditions Council sets up tables, pens and stationery at many of campus’ most visited spots Monday and Tuesday before Silver Taps. A large letter dropbox is placed in Academic Plaza until late Tuesday afternoon. And The Battalion publishes memorials about each honored student in print and online. Get a snapshot of who each student was, and take 10 minutes out of your schedule to comfort a family in their greatest tragedy.
Attend the Silver Taps evening ceremony, and stand as a silent reminder that the Aggie Family always remembers the fallen. But extend a heartfelt condolence to the family too. Your letter may not lift their grief. It may not even be long. But it’s the least you have and the most you can do — and that’s what truly matters.
John Rangel is an aerospace engineering senior and science and technology editor for The Battallion.