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Standing In Spirit

Scot Walker '90 November 13, 2019 9:23 AM updated: November 13, 2019 2:09 PM

The Bonfire Memorial was dedicated in 2004 on the exact location of the fallen 1999 Bonfire. To learn more about the memorial, visit bonfire.tamu.edu/memorial. Photo by Patrick Danielczyk ’03/The Association of Former Students
The Bonfire Memorial was dedicated in 2004 on the exact location of the fallen 1999 Bonfire. To learn more about the memorial, visit bonfire.tamu.edu/memorial. Photo by Patrick Danielczyk ’03/The Association of Former Students

Students Make Sure The A&M Community
Never Forgets Nov. 18, 1999

Editor’s Note: Every year at 2:42 a.m. on Nov. 18, thousands of people—most of them current Texas A&M students—gather at the Bonfire Memorial to honor and remember the 12 Aggies who died when the stack fell in 1999. The annual memorial service is coordinated by Traditions Council, a group within Student Government.

Texas Aggie magazine asked Taylor Fennell ’21, a student assistant at The Association of Former Students and a former Traditions Council member, to try to explain why so many A&M students are committed to preserving the memories of people they never met and to honoring a tradition most never experienced. She wrote this essay in response after consulting with Traditions Council officers Jackie Adkins ’20 and Brooke Wilson ’20. The essay first appeared in the November-December 2019 issue of Texas Aggie.

To learn more about Traditions Council, visit traditions.tamu.edu.

BY TAYLOR FENNELL ’21

Two decades have passed since that fateful November morning in Aggieland. Aggies worked through the night to exhibit the Spirit that can ne’er be told. They left their differences behind, united over a common love for Texas A&M University and built a towering display of their affection. When tragedy struck just a week before the rivalry game, the Aggie family unified and swore to remember the 12 we lost in Bonfire’s collapse.

Each year, without fail, thousands of Aggies stand for the fallen on Nov. 18 at 2:42 a.m. Students who were too young to walk when stack fell still feel a connection to the 12 we lost. We possess the desire to preserve their spirit, which sang of Aggie pride and passion. Standing at the stack site in the small hours of a chilly autumn morning, that spirit is undeniable.

From the center of the circle, time stands still. Shadows of solemn students stretch beyond the hill surrounding the Bonfire Memorial, almost demonstrating the Aggie support system’s extensive reach. As visitors pass through each of the 12 portals, their eyes linger on each letter of the names of the fallen. A few Aggies even place their beloved Rings on the stone marking the point where centerpole stood.

All the while, we reflect. Some stand in awe of such strong passion for Texas A&M, while others focus on the uplifting community that Aggies share. Regardless, the Aggie Spirit is present in each passing thought.

We remember Miranda Denise Adams ’02, who was a ray of light to everyone she encountered.

We remember Christopher D. Breen ’96, who was a former student working in Austin, but traveled 90 miles to work on Bonfire on a weeknight.

We remember Michael Stephen Ebanks ’03, whose sweet soul stole each heart it met.

We remember Jeremy Richard Frampton ’99, who saw art in everything around him.

We remember Jamie Lynn Hand ’03, who made the most of every moment.

We remember Christopher Lee Heard ’03, who always sought new opportunities to grow.

We remember Timothy Doran Kerlee, Jr. ’03, a selfless leader to those who knew him.

We remember Lucas John Kimmel ’03, who aimed to serve others in all of his actions.

We remember Bryan A. McClain ’02, whose exuberance left a mark on many.

We remember Chad A. Powell ’03, a bright student who challenged himself to achieve remarkable feats.

We remember Jerry Don Self ’01, whose contagious smile greeted those around him.

We remember Nathan Scott West ’02, who used each new ounce of knowledge to help others.

Those individuals are the reason why students who have never known the tradition of Bonfire turn out by the masses each year. Their Aggie Spirit still burns brightly, and it is in the heart of each Texas Aggie.

Taylor Fennell ’21 is a junior majoring in telecommunication media studies. For the fall semester, she is interning in Washington, D.C., through Texas A&M’s Public Policy Internship Program.



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