Current and former students gather in the brisk morning cold at 2:42 a.m. to remember the 12 Aggies that fell during Bonfire collapse in 1999. But as the ceremony continues, some minute changes may be noticed.
Different voices will be heard at the Bonfire Remembrance Ceremony during the reading of the poems and facilitation of the ceremony this year. Due to conflicts with the Ole Miss football game, Student Body President Bobby Brooks and Corps Commander Brad Sauer will be leading the ceremony alongside Head Yell Leader Ian Moss.
Traditionally, all three senior yell leaders lead the ceremony, however senior yell leaders Ken Belden and Cooper Cox will be in Oxford, Miss. for Midnight Yell. The decision to add Brooks and Sauer was made after careful deliberation between Brooks, Moss and the Traditions Council.
“It’s going to be the same exact ceremony, but with us speaking,” Brooks said. “This issue may happen again in the future, and we are trying to make sure we can set that up and have consistency for the student body.”
Bonfire was held each year before the annual University of Texas vs. Texas A&M football game. At 2:42 a.m. on November 18, 1999, the stack collapsed, killing 12 Aggies and injuring 27 others. A memorial was erected to honor those fallen and each year a remembrance ceremony is held where poems are read for the Aggies.
“The ceremony is not in detriment at all because it does not revolve around the fact that we have Yell Leaders reading and reciting,” said Devin Lubin, Traditions Council public relations chair. “Everyone we have there, they understand what the ceremony means to the school and all the alumni, so they will treat it with the same respect that the Yell Leaders would.”
This is the first time there has been an away football game on the same weekend as Bonfire Remembrance since the ceremony began, and Moss said the speakers this year only add to it.
“We have the Yell Leader which is the ambassador of the spirit, the Student Body President who is the voice of the students and the Corps Commander who is the head of the Keepers of the Spirit,” Moss said. “That was a cool trio that we could easily fulfill the role this year.”
For Sauer, this opportunity is a special moment because Bonfire victim Lucas Kimmel was a member of Company D-2, Sauer’s current company.
“It was a big deal for me starting freshman year to be a part of the tradition, and now fast forward three years, being asked to speak at it is a way, as a student and as an Aggie, that I can help honor those Aggies who lost their lives,” Sauer said. “Students who show up and participate in the tradition get that sense of family that no matter where you go, how long you are away for or even after you are gone, there’s always going to be the Aggie family that you have.”
Brooks said this tradition only strengthens the student body, and the simple change of speakers will not jeopardize the tradition or the respect paid during the ceremony.
“The fact that we were faced with a challenge and still try to focus on the spirit and intent, it is the best predictor for how this ceremony and tradition will go in the future,” Brooks said. “Every year when we do pay proper diligence and proper respect to the ceremony, the student body is strengthened.”