Ashley Wagner '18 April 23, 2019 4:01 PM updated: May 20, 2019 5:55 PM
In a special dedication ceremony on April 23, the Class of 1969 dedicated a Spirit Plaza in front of the Academic Building as a Class gift to Texas A&M University and the Class of 2019.
The plaza, located just between the YMCA and Coke buildings, pays tribute to two unique Aggie traditions – Silver Taps and Muster – and with help from the Classes of ’72, ’91 and ’95, features three sculptures that embody what the Class of ’69 had in mind when they brainstormed this idea back in 2009 at their 40 Year Reunion: a spot in the center of campus that embodies the Aggie experience.
“Those that visit this place will know that an Aggie’s life begins with ‘howdy’ and ends with ‘here,’” said Bill Youngkin ’69, Class Agent and former yell leader.
Spirit Plaza also introduces and memorializes the story of Donald Coward ’72, who wrote home to his parents about his first Silver Taps experience as a student. Three weeks later, Coward died in an automobile accident along with two other cadets, and on Nov. 12, 1968, Silver Taps was held in their honor. Read the full letter here.
Bill Maddox ’69 read Coward’s letter to a group that stretched from Houston Street to the A&M seal near Military Walk, which included members from the cadets’ families. “Right now it’s 11:00 and Call to Quarters is over, I should be in bed, but there’s something I have to tell you both first,” Coward wrote. “I’ve experienced tonight what A&M is all about ... Mom, Dad, it was like God himself was there with us.”
Bill Howell, Jr. ’69 thanked many people for their help and assistance with the formation of Spirit Plaza, including student organizations, Benjamin Knox ’90 and A&M College of Architecture professor Rodney Hill. He also thanked three staff members from The Association of Former Students – Josh Reinbolt ’99, Freddy Rodriguez ’12 and Linda Suarez – for their dedication to the project and for providing a “home base” for their “Class, efforts and banking.”
Held the day after the campus Muster ceremony, the dedication marked one of the final events of the Class of 1969’s 50 Year Reunion where the Class of 2019 have served as hosts at all on-campus events: a special Silver Taps presentation, the Corps of Cadets morning formation and flag raising ceremony, Camaraderie Barbecue, campus Muster ceremony and the student panel featuring student leaders across campus.
Texas A&M President Michael K. Young spoke about how the Class of 2019 has served the Class of 1969, just as the Class of 1969 served the Class of 1919. Spirit Plaza serves as a “constant reminder of what it means to be an Aggie – that this education is powerful and important,” he said.
Amy Sharp ’19, student body president for the 2018-19 school year, said the Class of 2019 has made a “promise” to take care of the plaza and its legacy until it’s transferred to the Class of 2069 at their 50 Year Reunion.
See more photos from the event here.
The Association of Former Students helps coordinate, plan and host Class Reunions and assists with the creation of Class gifts. Donor support makes this possible; add yours at tx.ag/give.