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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Traditions Council stands behind the bugel call

 

 

Behind the echo of 21 shots fired, the haunting sound of bugles, and the somber moment of silence, the students of Traditions Council work to continue the century old tradition that is Silver Taps.
Executive director of Traditions Council and senior business honors major, Kelsey Mckechnie, said Traditions Council coordinates with the Ross Volunteers and Student Assistance Services. They do everything from setting up tables around campus where students can write letters to the families of the deceased to guiding these families around during their time on campus before Silver Taps begins.
“It’s a huge honor and a humbling experience to be a part of the organization that helps keep this tradition alive,” Mckechnie said. “It also makes me really reflect on my life and my time at A&M.”
Alexandra Gonzalez, junior agribusiness major and member of Traditions Council, said beyond the preparations that take place a week before the first Tuesday of each month, the Council is continually contacting the families of students to be honored and making the appropriate arrangements to accommodate those who will be attending Silver Taps as family members of the deceased.
“Our job as the Council is to really stress and emphasize just how much this tradition means to the families of the students we have lost,” Gonzalez said. “Some people might not realize how much 10 to 15 minutes of their presence can really mean to the family.”
In addition to buying flowers for the families of the deceased, a subcommittee of Traditions council called Campus Relations assigns a small group of students to comfort each family attending Silver Taps, Gonzalez said. These students then explain to families the process of Silver Taps and present them with the gift of a series of images depicting Silver Taps traditions.
“What the hosts do is guide and lead [the families] over to the academic plaza, and see that the students around them are all quiet, no one’s on their cellphone,” Gonzalez said.
Mckechnie said, in her experience, families are usually grateful and overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support shown by the students.
“Whenever they are led into academic plaza and they see thousands who are standing there for their son, for their daughter, for their spouse, you can tell that it just overwhelms them,” Mckechnie said. “I think it’s really special that we can do this to help comfort them in their grief.”
Gonzalez said the task of guiding and comforting families is not something that anyone can ever completely prepare for.
“It is very difficult when you are there to greet someone and [the families] take one look at you and automatically start crying,” Gonzalez said. “You can’t really prepare for it; you just do what you can.”
During the ceremony itself, Traditions Council as a whole helps with crowd control and makes sure that everything goes smoothly.
“Our responsibility as the Council is more with the families directly and making sure that all the students are safe, whether it’s a matter of making sure no one is passing out because of heat or no one is talking on their cell phone,” Gonzalez said.
Caroline Plowman, sophomore business administration major and Traditions Council service and bonfire sub-committee chair, said all the work done by the Council meets an important need for the University.
“It’s really special, because we are playing a first hand part in such a big tradition at the University,” Plowman said. “To me, it’s just really special to be a part of something that’s been a part of Texas A&M for so long and to see the student body come together and stand among, you know, my fellow Traditions Council members and fellow students. It’s just a very humbling experience.”
Mckechnie said Silver Taps, which began in 1898, is a means of linking the past to the present and future, but notes it is up to the entire student body to keep the tradition alive by continuing to attend Silver Taps throughout the year.
“We see great attendance in September, but it slowly wanes, so I encourage everyone to make 30-45 minutes a month to come,” Mckechnie said.

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