For those of you not in Texas right now – let me just tell you – it’s hot. Like REALLY HOT. As hot as it is, I would personally take the summer heat over a Northern winter any day. But man, it’s realllly hot! 😉
So as our heat wave continues, it also means every day we get closer to the first football game of the season. I have August 31st circled on the calendar.
In order to get a little more background on us Aggies, here is a quick rundown on some non-football related traditions.
At a yell practice before the 1930 TCU game, a dedicated fan and member of the Texas A&M Board of Regents named Pinky Downs ’06 shouted, “What are we going to do to those Horned Frogs?” Improvising, he borrowed the name of a sharp-pronged frog hunting tool, called a gig. “Gig ’em, Aggies!” he said as he made a fist with his thumb extended straight up. With that, the first hand sign in the old Southwest Conference was born.
Today the words and the thumbs-up sign are found outside the football stadium and have come to signify that the person is an Aggie or an Aggie fan. Usually done with the right hand, the Gig ’em sign also shows the Aggie Ring, which is worn on that hand. More than that, Gig ’em signals optimism, determination, loyalty and the Aggie Spirit.
The first Aggie Bonfire began in the early 1900’s as a pile of wood and trash next to the train station. The cadets decided to make a Bonfire to congratulate the football team on their win. Although this first Bonfire was held in the early morning hours of November 18, 1907, the first on-campus Aggie Bonfire was not held until 1909.
Bonfire grew immensely through the years. The largest Bonfire was in 1969 and stood 109ft., which is only one foot shorter than Rudder tower. After that, the administration decided to regulate the Bonfire height to 55ft.
There have been two years that Bonfire did not burn. First, in 1963, following the death of President John F. Kennedy, the senior class made one of the most difficult decision of their time at Texas A&M. In honor of their president, they decided to dismantle the Bonfire, which had recently been completed. The head yell leader at the time, Mike Marlowe, was quoted as saying, “It is the most we have and the least we can give.”
The second time that Bonfire was built and did not burn was in 1999. On November 18th, Bonfire fell, taking 12 of our fellow Aggies with it. This day was one of the most trying days for Aggies everywhere. At this time, Bonfire has been postponed indefinitely and no one knows if Bonfire will return. The Aggie Spirit has created the Aggie Traditions and that Aggie Spirit will thrive through the trying times.
Muster is the tradition that forever unites the Aggies past with Aggies present. It is Texas A&M’s most solemn and most visible tradition.
Muster was first held on June 26, 1883, when former students of Texas A&M gathered together to “… live over again our college days, the victories and defeats won and lost upon drill ground and classroom. Let every alumnus answer a roll call.” No matter where Aggies are, whether it is as few as two or as many as the thousands who gather on the Texas A&M campus, they come together each April 21 for Muster.
At each Muster ceremony around the world, a speaker will be followed by the “Roll Call For The Absent.” Names of those from that area who have died in the past year will be read, and as each name is called, a family member or friend will answer “Here” to show that Aggie is present in spirit, and a candle will be lit.
Following the ceremony in Reed Arena, which is the largest Muster in the world, a rifle volley is fired and then a special arrangement of “Taps” is played.
By far, one of Texas A&M’s most honored traditions is Silver Taps. Silver Taps is held for a graduate or undergraduate student who passes away while enrolled at A&M. This final tribute is held the first Tuesday of the month following the students’ passing.
The first Silver Taps was held in 1898 and honored Lawrence Sullivan Ross, the former governor of Texas and president of A&M College. Silver Taps is currently held in Academic Plaza. On the day of Silver Taps, a small card with the deceased students name, class, major, and date of birth is placed at the base of the Academic Plaza flagpole, and the Silver Taps Memorial located behind the flagpole. Around 10:15 that night, the lights are extinguished and hymns chime from Albritton Tower. Students silently gather at the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross. At 10:30pm, the Ross Volunteer Firing Squad marches into the plaza and fires a twenty-one gun salute. Buglers then play a special rendition of Silver Taps, by Colonel Richard Dunn, three times from the dome of the Academic Building: once to the north, south, and west. It is not played to the east because it is said that the sun will never rise on that Aggies life again. After the buglers play, the students leave from Academic Plaza in complete silence. Silver Taps is a sacred tradition that Aggies treasure dearly.
Every year nine hundred counselors willingly give up time and effort in order to welcome Texas A&M’s greatest and most important tradition: The Freshmen Class. Through a 4-day orientation program held in Palestine, TX, freshmen are given the opportunity to learn Aggie Traditions, ease their way into college life, develop leadership skills and create bonds that will last a lifetime.
One of the greatest moments in the life of any Aggie is the day they receive their Aggie Ring — the distinctive ring serves as the symbolic link to the Aggie network of former students.
Aggies around the world recognize each other when they see the ring and greet each other as friends. The ring is not given; it must be earned academically.
Although the first Aggie Ring began with the class of 1889, it was E.C. Jonas, class of 1894, who designed the ring Aggies wear today. Nothing on the ring has changed, except when the university’s name changed to Texas A&M University in 1963.
The Big Event is the largest, one-day, student-run service project in the nation where students of Texas A&M University come together to say ‘thank you’ to the residents of Bryan and College Station. For the past 25 years Aggie students have participated in this annual event to show their appreciation to the surrounding community by completing service projects such as yard work, window washing, and interior/exterior painting. Although The Big Event has become the largest one-day, student-run service project in the nation, our message still remains the same – simply “thank you.”
In true Aggie Spirit, “Howdy” is the official greeting of Texas A&M. The university is known for its welcoming attitude and for making sure no one who visits the campus feels like a stranger.
Visitors often say they find the friendliness of the campus remarkable. They tell stories of looking lost only to have an Aggie walk up, say “Howdy,” offer to help and, to their amazement, walk with them to make sure they arrive at their destination.
While the exact origin of this tradition is not known, “Howdy” has come to be a tradition that sets Texas A&M apart as one of the friendliest campuses in the world, where all are welcome.
Reveille, the first lady of Aggieland, is the official mascot of Texas A&M. As a five-star general, she is the highest ranking member of the Corps of Cadets. She attends class with the mascot corporal, a cadet tasked with her care, and attends football games and other events on campus.
The first Reveille came to Texas A&M in January 1931. A group of cadets hit a small black and white dog on the road, picked her up and brought her back to school so they could care for her. She got her name the next morning: when “Reveille” was blown by a bugler, she started barking. It was not until later that a purebred collie, the Reveille seen today, was selected as mascot.
When Reveille I died in 1944, she was given a formal military funeral and buried at the north end of Kyle Field so that the score of the Aggie football game was always visible from the site. Reveilles II-VI are also buried there.
The most current Reveille is Reveille VIII. She was officially introduced on Aug. 30, 2008.
Thanks and Gig ‘Em
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