The families of Aggies who died before receiving their class ring received a recognition piece at a ceremony Thursday.
The Ring Remembrance ceremony offers the families an Aggie Ring crest as a tangible piece of their loved one’s time at Texas A&M. The tradition began in 2000, after years of families asking for the ring their Aggie was never able to receive.
“We felt like we needed to provide something for the family, because it was obvious that Texas A&M was a very important part of that student’s life and was very important to the family,” said Kathryn Greenwade, vice president of the Association of Former Students and Class of 1988. “So we created this piece in cooperation with Balfour ... as something to give those families.”
The ceremony began with an address by Marty Holmes, vice president of the Association of Former Students and Class of 1987, followed by an address by Dwain Mayfield, 2016 chair of the Association of Former Students and Class of 1959.
“With Ring Remembrance, we commemorate the Aggie pride and tradition that your loved one so embraced,” Mayfield said in his address to the families. “That pride is most visibly represented by the Aggie Ring, a tradition that is as grand and as revered as our university itself.”
Joseph Benigno, 2015-2016 student body president, addressed the families, saying that Texas A&M has always been a family — caring for others in need — regardless of their experience or knowledge of the university.
“I want to assure you that Aggies around the world stand in unison today,” Benigno said to the families. “I hope you can find solace that your loved one will be remembered today and forever as we answer ‘Here.’ And as we answer ‘Here,’ we’re here for you as well.”
As their loved one’s name was called, the families stood as a member of Traditions Council brought their recognition piece to them. Holly Rine, Traditions Council chair, said the member who brought the family the recognition piece is the same member who hosted that family at Silver Taps.
“It was an opportunity for our Traditions Council members to build a bond with that family, and in the case that they’re not Aggies, let them know that this is the Aggie spirit, the Aggie network, the Aggie family that’s going to be here for you,” Rine said.
Katlin Fox, Traditions Council member and biological and agricultural engineering senior, said a lot of people do not realize these students who passed during the academic year never had the chance to get their Aggie Ring.
“You might not think of that as a big deal but to a parent, having a student that suffered through 30 hours here or 60 hours here or 89 hours here, and to not have that physical token of that hard work — I think it’s just a wonderful way for them to have something tangible to hold on to,” Fox said. “Since A&M can’t really give them a diploma or a degree of merit, we can offer them some kind of tangible evidence of their hard work.”
Before Holmes closed the ceremony, 2016 Campus Muster speaker and former football coach Richard Copeland “R.C.” Slocum shared with those in attendance that his mother recently died and urged the families to think of happy times with their loved ones, like he does of his mother’s memory. He emphasized this with a story about his close friend John David Crow. He said Crow lost his son in an automobile accident, and Slocum told him to think of different aspects of his life as slices of pie and to focus on the good pieces he still has with him.
“We’re all in this world together, and we have to help each other go through the rough times,” Slocum said in his address to the families. “Know that there’s a family here, the Aggie family, that’s with you, that cares about you.”