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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggie Sprit continues to burn bright

Photo courtesy of James Williams

Former Bonfire volunteer James Williams’, Class of 1992, Bonfire pots, used to protect volunteers while building the stack and continue to be used today.

The Aggie Spirit persists even after tragedy.
Created in 1907, Bonfire “became a symbol of the deep and unique camaraderie that is the Aggie Spirit,” according to Texas A&M.
To prepare for the annual event, students would create a stack of vertical logs to burn and bring together 30,000-70,000 people who all shared the burning desire to defeat the University of Texas. With the exception of 1963, the on-campus Bonfire tradition would continue until the tragic Bonfire Collapse in 1999.
At about 2:42 a.m. on Nov. 18, 1999, the Bonfire stack fell during construction and claimed the lives of 12 Aggies and injuring 27 others.
The Bonfire Memorial was officially dedicated in 2004 to remember and honor those lost. The site features 89 stones representing the number of years the Bonfire burned on campus, 27 stone panels for each student injured and 12 portals for each life lost.
Architecture junior Karli Holland is the chair of the Bonfire Remembrance ceremony for the Traditions Council.
“I always thought I knew what the Aggie Spirit was, but it wasn’t until my freshmen year when I went to the Bonfire Remembrance ceremony that I really figured out what it is,” Holland said.
After attending her first Bonfire Remembrance ceremony, Holland said it was a turning point for her.
“These students are not just names and not just faces,” Holland said. “These people were brothers, sisters, daughters and sons, and I feel that it is our duty as Aggies to come out and remember them every November.”
After the on-campus collapse, A&M halted Bonfire from being held on campus, but in 2002, Aggies invested in the tradition began holding a student-led, off-campus version.
Head stack of Student Bonfire and industrial distributions senior Jackson Gloyna leads volunteers to help assemble an off-campus stack to burn, keeping the Bonfire alive.
“It’s what it means to be an Aggie,” Gloyna said. “It’s what an Aggie is. We work hard, and we play hard … It’s something that no other school would be able to fathom what we do here. We really do make the impossible come true.”
Former Bonfire volunteer James Williams, Class of 1992, said before the Collapse, Bonfire was known to generate lots of excitement for the University of Texas rival football game.
“The Bonfire brought the whole campus together because of all the activities and events to get it to the point where it would burn,” James said.
Former Bonfire volunteer Rob Williams, Class of 1991, said the anticipation for the event was a highlight of fall semesters.
“Two things that the fall semester was about, football and the Bonfire, and it was … just as much a part of the culture as saying Gig’em or Howdy,” Rob said.
Ever since burn became an off-campus event, Rob said he feels like an important piece of A&M history is missing.
“Today, even though we don’t have the actual Bonfire lit and burning itself, the Aggie Spirit still burns within us, and the spirit of those that passed away will always be in our hearts,” Holland said. “Despite our losses, we’re still the tight-knit community that we were back then, it’s still gonna be part of who we are as Aggies, and that spirit just always works.”
The Bonfire Remembrance ceremony will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 2:42 a.m. at the Bonfire Memorial.

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About the Contributor
Stacy Cox
Stacy Cox, News Writer
Stacy Cox is a freshman majoring in Sociology, minoring in Women & Gender Studies and earning a certificate in Legal History. Stacy is from New Braunfels, Texas, and she started writing for The Battalion in November 2023. After graduation, Stacy intends to earn a law degree and pursue a career in law and public service.
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