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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

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Southern slugfest
May 23, 2024
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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
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A fighter jet squadron flies over during the National Anthem before Texas A&M’s game against Arkansas at Olsen Field on Saturday, May 18, 2024. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
Bryan-College Station Regional participants announced
Ian Curtis, Sports Writer • May 27, 2024

For the second time in three seasons, No. 3 national seed Texas A&M baseball will host the Bryan-College Station Regional, where it’ll...

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Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Bee-hind the scenes
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

The speakers turn on. Static clicks. And a voice reads “Your starting lineup for the Texas A&M Aggies is …” Spectators hear that...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
April 25, 2024
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The BattalionMay 4, 2024

You will live on in our memories forever; Aggies are never left behind.

Senior psychology major Christian Clem helped stack logs a few days before the 1999 Aggie Bonfire was supposed to burn. On Nov. 18, 1999 Clem considered helping his fellow crewmembers stack, but decided to stay home and write a paper instead. When he heard that Bonfire fell that morning, Clem was in shock.
“I was in … disbelief that something like that could even happen,” Clem said. “I had been assured for a long time how safe it was, how much they were concerned about our safety and to have that happen was mind-blowing, mind-numbing.”
Clem said that Thursday, five years later, he plans to honor his fallen and injured crew members at the Bonfire Memorial dedication.
“I think it’s a very interesting and fitting tribute to a great Aggie tradition and to the 12 who were killed,” Clem said. “It’s just really amazing how much this university, the student body especially, cares for each other, and that memorial represents that.”
The Memorial, which is composed of three sections, was created to honor the 12 students who died and the 27 who were injured in the 1999 collapse. It will be officially dedicated Thursday at 2:30 p. m.
Student Body President Jack Hildebrand said the Bonfire Memorial was carefully planned to include a great deal of symbolism.
“Every piece of it is symbolic,” Hildebrand said. “A lot of thought went into it to remember those who have fallen… A lot of people put their heart into this. Bonfire will always be important to Aggies and we will always remember those 12.”
Each section of the memorial was designed to evoke three aspects of Bonfire: tradition, history and spirit. The entrance wall is engraved with “The Last Corps Trip,” the poem traditionally recited before the lighting of Bonfire, and the walk is lined with 89 granite blocks, symbolizing the 89 years that Bonfire burned. The 170-foot diameter Spirit ring is composed of 27 granite blocks connected by 12 portals. The blocks feature 27 blank bronze plaques to represent all of those injured in Bonfire’s history. Twelve portals stand as representations of the 12 fallen Aggies, and a black-granite marker stands in the center as a representation of centerpole.
Wynn Rosser, assistant vice president for Student Affairs and co-chairman of the Bonfire Memorial Committee, said the Bonfire Memorial is a place of unity, respect and Aggie spirit.
“It’s a beautiful place,” Rosser said. “It’s a peaceful space and the architecture invites you to sit, ponder, retreat and remember.”
Rosser said the 12 portals with the bronze tributes illustrate the strong spirits of the students who were killed.
“You come to realize the Aggie spirit when you learn who they were,” Rosser said. “The spirits of these students are role models for us no matter what age you are.”
Rosser said the most important aspect of the Memorial is remembrance.”I hope people honor the commitment to never forget,” Rosser said. “Through remembering, we unify.”
Hildebrand said the Memorial is moving, and that he hopes students not only recognize it as a place of remembrance, but also a peaceful area to relax or study.
“I think it is a moving sight and I think it is something students will pay their respects to each year,” Hildebrand said. “I hope it’s a place where students can just hang out as well.”
Sean Breen, brother of Christopher Breen who was killed in the 1999 collapse, said the Memorial is a fitting tribute.
“I really like the way the portals face the hometowns because I think these kids really loved their families and their families really loved them,” Sean said.
Sean said that although his family appreciated the effort to remember Christopher, he thinks the Memorial is a misplaced priority by the Texas A&M administration.
“The Memorial is bittersweet,” Sean said. “It’s a fitting tribute but there are still things that need to be done by A&M that they are not doing … I think the main thing is that my brother would want A&M and the administration to step forward, take responsibility for what happened and take care of the injured and dead.”
Breen said Christopher’s death is still too painful for his family, so it will hold a private ceremony instead of attending the dedication ceremony.
Clem said students should attend the dedication with the thought that Bonfire was a great tradition, but that Aggie spirit runs deeper than Bonfire, as exemplified by the Memorial. He said he thinks the 12 students would have wanted such a memorial.
“I think they would be pleased with how this memorial has been handled,” Clem said. “I think it’s a very respectful memorial.”

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