Bonfire 20th-year Remembrance
MICHAEL K. YOUNG
November 8, 2019
Today as I drove onto the Texas A&M campus, I passed Bonfire Memorial — just like I’ve done for the past 4 ½ years since becoming president of this great university. Though the drive is part of my routine, what I feel is far from typical each time I pause to consider those 12 granite portals intertwined with the 27 bronze markers.
Even 20 years later, the tragedy that unfolded there early November 18, 1999 is hard to comprehend.
And yet, this constant reminder of the Aggies we lost also is a reminder of the incredible Aggie spirit. It’s a spirit that lives on through the stories of the 12 that are engraved in stone at the memorial. It lives on in many other forms across the campus, especially through the important efforts of students on the Traditions Council who tell others about the remarkable lives we lost that morning, as well as share details of the memorial itself.
What happened is a part of our history and will not be forgotten. The tragedy also reminds us of the resiliency of the Aggie family: those who created a beautiful memorial spontaneously at the site that day; those who left their Aggie rings at the base of a nearby flag pole in tribute; the scores of emergency responders who answered the difficult call.
On behalf of the Aggie community, I offer my deepest condolences to everyone impacted by this tragedy. We realize that we can never fully memorialize Miranda Adams, Christopher Breen, Michael Ebanks, Jeremy Frampton, Jamie Hand, Christopher Heard, Timothy Kerlee Jr., Lucas Kimmel, Bryan McClain, Chad Powell, Jerry Self and Nathan West. Nor can we ever adequately comfort those who mourn or wholly comprehend their loss.
We continue to honor their lives. Here are the remembrances being observed this month:
- Bonfire Memorial reopened November 4 after almost 10 weeks of maintenance work.
- Midnight Yell practice on Friday, November 15 will include a moment of remembrance.
- At the Saturday, November 16 football game, Texas A&M Athletics will bring back a few members of the 1999 team to be recognized on the field as the most impactful victory in Texas A&M history with their win over Texas — an effort for which the team credited the “Bonfire 12.”
- The football team will wear a 20-year remembrance sticker on their helmet.
- There will be a moment of silence prior to the national anthem at the game.
- The Bonfire Remembrance Ceremony will bring together thousands at 2:42 a.m. on November 18 at Bonfire Memorial.
- A reflections display will be set up at the Memorial Student Center Flag Room from November 11 through November 18 with Traditions Council members helping out.
We will always remember.
Michael K. Young