Fourteen years ago, at 2:42 am, Texas A&M suffered the greatest tragedy in our school's history. Today Aggies sit in remembrance of the 1999 Bonfire collapse. Those who could not be in Aggieland to share in the remembrance took to social media to share their stories, and to make sure that we never forget what happened that day.
One of the best accounts to follow on Twitter last night was the commemorative account of former Texas A&M president Lawrence Sullivan Ross, @Sully1876. He started with "The Last Corps Trip" poem written by Philo H. DuVal, Jr., '51. As an immigrant to Texas from New Jersey, I wasn't an Aggie by birth. This poem was my first introduction to the Aggie Spirit, and it forever changed my life.
It was Judgment Day in Aggieland
And tenseness filled the air;
All knew there was a trip at hand,
But not a soul knew where.
Assembled on the drill field
Was the world-renowned Twelfth Man,
The entire fighting Aggie team
And the famous Aggie Band.
And out in front with Royal Guard
The reviewing party stood;
St. Peter and his angel staff
Were choosing bad from good.
First he surveyed the Aggie team
And in terms of an angel swore,
"By Jove, I do believe I've seen
This gallant group before.
I've seen them play since way back when,
And they've always had the grit;
I've seen 'em lose and I've seen 'em win
But I've never seen 'em quit.
No need for us to tarry here
Deciding upon their fates;
Tis plain as the halo on my head
That they've opened Heaven's gates."
And when the Twelfth Man heard this,
They let out a mighty yell
That echoed clear to Heaven
And shook the gates of Hell.
"And what group is this upon the side,"
St. Peter asked his aide,
"That swelled as if to burst with pride
When we our judgment made?"
"Why, sir, that's the Cadet Corps
That's known both far and wide
For backing up their fighting team
Whether they won lost or tied."
"Well, then," said St. Peter,
"It's very plain to me
That within the realms of Heaven
They should spend eternity.
And have the Texas Aggie Band
At once commence to play
For their fates too we must decide
Upon this crucial day."
And the drum major so hearing
Slowly raised his hand
And said, "Boys, let's play The Spirit
For the last time in Aggieland."
And the band poured forth the anthem,
In notes both bright and clear
And ten thousand Aggie voices
Sang the song they hold so dear.
And when the band had finished,
St. Peter wiped his eyes
And said, "It's not so hard to see
They're meant for Paradise."
And the colonel of the Cadet Corps said
As he stiffly took his stand,
"It's just another Corps Trip, boys,
We'll march in behind the band."
I don't normally get emotional when I peruse social media, but Sully's account made me just that. I'm glad there are guys like him out there that will try and make sure people never forget the 12 Aggies we lost that day.
Here are some of the tweets from Aggies remembering the events of #Bonfire99.
11/18/99 We will never forget. Here. #bonfire99— Agg_Swagg (@Agg_Swagg) November 18, 2013
We will never forget. Take a few minutes today to put the memories of those killed and injured in the 1999 Bonfire into your thoughts and prayers.