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

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

The Battalion

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Chancellor John Sharp during a Board of Regents meeting discussing the appointmet of interim dean Mark Welsh and discussion of a McElroy settlement on Sunday, July 30, 2023 in the Memorial Student Center.
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In memoriam


Chip Thiel said he could still hear the sounds of the fall of 1999: chainsaws, tractor engines and the commands of the many crew chiefs being barked to underclassmen.
“My favorite time of the year is the fall, when the northern air arrives and pushes the humidity down to a reasonable level to turn the leaves brown and to remind me and Aggies everywhere that it is Bonfire weather,” said Theil, a Class of 2000 A&M graduate who survived the tragic collapse.
In a somber ceremony, tens of thousands of Aggies from across the nation turned out to pay tribute to their 12 fellow Aggies who lost their lives building the Aggie Bonfire five years ago.
“For nearly a century, students at Texas A&M University participated in Bonfire,” said A&M President Robert M. Gates. “Over the years, this tradition grew in size, structure and meaning. It came to be a symbol of the Aggie Spirit and what it represents: hard work, determination, team work and unity.”
Among those in attendance were Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Board of Regents member John White, former Student Body President Matt Josefy, Jerry Ebanks, father of victim Michael Ebanks, and Thiel, who represented students injured in the Bonfire collapse.
Perry expressed his support for the return of the age-old tradition to the A&M campus.
“That unique spirit (of Aggieland was) evident in so many ways and was never more apparent than during the annual Bonfire ritual,” Perry said. “As sure as I stand here today, as a Class of 1972 red pot, I look forward to the day that the Bonfire tradition returns to this campus, where it burns again. It will be much more than just a football rivalry, it will be an expression of who we are, what we stand for, a symbol of our great pride and a testament to our character and a reminder of the values inscribed upon our hearts.”
Haley Johnson, a freshman communication major, said that even though she wasn’t an A&M student when Bonfire fell, she still felt like a part of the Aggie family at the dedication.
“(I was) standing in a bunch of mud, (but) even though we were so far away, the emotion was still felt,” Johnson said.
Johnson said everyone seemed to come to the ceremony for the same reason and got to experience the moment together as a family.
“Each year, (from) the students who have built it to the tens of thousands who have gathered to watch it light the November night, (Bonfire) brought the Aggie family together like nothing else,” Gates said.
Perry paid tribute to all of the victims and to the tradition of Bonfire, reminiscing about his own college days as a red pot.
“I hope a great many come to these grounds, and in the stillness of this place reflect on the tremendous loss that occurred here on that November day,” Perry said. “But I hope that they do something more, I hope that as they peer into the portals, they get a glimpse of the soul of Aggieland.”

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