I saw Bonfire being built once, on an October Saturday in 1999. Just a few short weeks later, Texas A&M was all over the news because the stack had fallen in the wee hours of November 18th. I took a lot of crap from people I went to high school with, I spent a few hours worrying about friends on campus and if they were OK, and I got my acceptance letter a few weeks later and officially became an Aggie, it was a turning point in my life.
Freshman year I went to the memorial and cried the entire time, in the rain. I've only been to the official memorial once to read the inscriptions and stand on that hallowed ground and I've never seen the off-campus Bonfire burn, I'm waiting for the return of the real, official Bonfire to campus. When it does, I will go back to College Station from wherever I am in the world with child(ren) in tow. I will stand in the crowd of my kinsmen and cheer, celebrating the lives of all Aggies and the 'burning desire to beat the HELL out of t.u.'
I bleed maroon always, no matter where I live or how long it has been since I stepped foot on campus. I am drawn to buy maroon clothing and shy away from anything orange, even if I know I'll look good in it. I wear my ring proudly and 'scope' other people's hands for Aggie rings as well. When I see a fellow Ag, I know I am with family and feel perfectly at home. I know that, between my Aggie family and my Air Force family, I am never alone and am even more grateful when those families overlap. Non-Aggies are amazed when I go right up to someone with an Aggie ring and introduce myself, they just don't understand how I could walk right up to a General or a random person in an airport. But then again...
From the outside looking in, you can't understand it. From the inside looking out, you can't explain it.
Today I remember the twelve who died when Bonfire fell and the many, many more who have given their lives in the service of our country. After the service academies, Texas A&M has commissioned more officers in the armed forces than any other university. We have actually commissioned more officers than the Air Force Academy. We have a long history of loyal service to our God, our Country, and our University. I am proud to be a part of that history and hope that I make Aggieland proud of me. It is so much more than a school, it is the beginning of the rest of your life.
So in memory of Aggies past, in honor of Aggies present, and in hope for Aggies future, I answer, Here.
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