Traditions

 

TRADITIONS


 

12th Man


On January 2, 1922, the Aggies from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas played the Prayin’ Colonels of Centre College, Kentucky, in the Dixie Classic.  Centre College had not been scored on that year and boasted 3 All-Americans—at QB, Center, and TE—unheard of in those days.  After the tough 1921 football season, the Aggies were “completely exhausted, both physically and mentally,” according to Red Thompson, a yell leader at the time.  But the Ags came ready to play, and the game's first points (and the first points allowed by Centre all year) came on a safety off a muffed punt in the end zone.

At half time, Coach Dana X. Bible’s Southwest Conference Champion Aggies were winning, but every player on the Aggie team except for the 11 on the field was injured. Coach Bible remembered that a sophomore football player, who had recently stepped down from football to focus on the new basketball season, was sitting in the press box helping identify players on the field. Coach Bible requested that the player, E. (Earl) King Gill ’24, come down to the field and suit up.

E. King Gill went under the stands with a couple blankets and the injured team captain, Heine Weir, and put on his uniform. Earl King Gill then stood next to Coach Bible for the rest of the game, ready to play, but he was never asked to. Texas A&M went on to beat Centre College 22-14.

Today, Aggies stand at all football and basketball games, from the opening kickoff “till the final gun is sounded,” symbolizing our readiness to go into the game whenever we are needed.

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Aggie Ring 


The Aggie Ring is a unique representation of achievement by an Aggie. Aggies take pride in earning their little piece of gold from the greatest University in the world.  The Aggie Ring is unlike any other because at most other students cannot design their own class ring or order it at any time. The Aggie Ring can only be ordered when an Aggie completes 90 hours, 45 of the hours being from Texas A&M University.

With very few changes made throughout the long and deep history of the ring, all Aggie rings are nearly identical, with the last change being made in 1963 when The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas became Texas A&M University.  The oldest ring is that of the Class of 1889, which featured the letters AMC entwined on the crest. Records indicate that E.C. Jonas, Class of 1894, designed the first A&M ring that included most of the same symbols still used today. In 1933, a committee was charged with defining criterion for attaining a ring, and the requirements have existed since then.

Traditionally, students wear the ring with the class year facing them to signify that their time at A&M is not yet complete. During Aggie Graduation, The Association of Former Students leads a ceremony in which Aggies students turn their rings around to face the world proudly, just as the Aggie graduate will be ready to face the world. 

What is the symbolism behind the Aggie Ring?

The top of the ring features a shield that symbolizes the protection of the good reputation of the alma mater. There are 13 stripes in the shield that symbolize the 13 original states and Aggie’s intense patriotism. The five stars found in the shield refer to the five phases of Aggie development: mind or intellect, body, spiritual attainment, emotional poise, and integrity of character. The eagle on the top of the Aggie Rind symbolizes agility and power and ability to reach great heights and ambitions.

One side of the Aggie Ring holds a large star encircled with a wreath of olive leaves joined together by a ribbon near the bottom of the Ring. The large star symbolizes the seal of the State of Texas authorized by the Constitution of 1845. It is encircled with a wreath of olive leaves symbolizing achievement and desire for peace and live oak leaves symbolizing the strength to fight. The leaves are joined at the bottom by an encircling ribbon to show the necessity of joining these traits to accomplish one’s ambition to serve.

The other side of the Aggie Ring contains an ancient cannon, saber, and rifle symbolize that the citizens of Texas fought for their land and our determination to defend our homeland. The saber stands for valor and confidence, and the rifle and cannon stand for preparedness and defense. On both sides, the United States and Texas Flags are crossed to symbolize the dual allegiance to nation and state.


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Big Event 


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.”


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Bonfire


The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Bonfire symbolizes the Spirit every Aggie carries in his heart for Texas A&M University.

The first bonfire was built on campus in 1909 and was described by Ernest Langford as a “pile of scrap wood” reaching twelve feet tall. Bonfire remained a trash heap until 1912, when they started using axes to cut down trees to add to the heap but other materials were still used. Frank G. Anderson, previous Aggie Coach and Commandant, stated that early Bonfires and the 1920 Bonfire were made of “community trash, boxes, etc.” Students used burning Bonfire as a pep rally where speeches were made and yells were led, often outlasting the actual burning of the fire. In 1935 Aggies were so bold as to dismantle a farmer’s barn to use for logs, forcing Commandant Anderson to begin regulating Bonfire. The first “log and legal Bonfire” was twelve feet tall and burned beautifully in 1936.

The first Center pole was erected in 1945 and in 1946, the first two piece Center pole allowing Bonfire to reach as high as twenty five feet. In 1955, while guarding Bonfire against people who may sabotage it, a car killed a sophomore named James Sarran when he pushed his freshman out of its path. Because of this, fish in the corps don’t thank their upperclassmen, because Mr. Sarran’s fish never got to thank him (upperclassmen will do anything for their fish). The university began implementing safety regulations as a result of this accident.

From the 1950s onward, building Bonfire became more organized while each class strove to make it bigger and better than the ones before. The tallest Bonfire was built in 1969 and was about 109 feet tall with a 105 foot center pole. It was about one foot shorter than Rudder Tower. Bonfire’s height was monitored by a city ordinance beginning in the 1970s after residents complained that their houses might catch on fire.

There have been only 2 years in A&M history that Bonfire did not burn:

1. In 1963 following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the senior class made one of the most difficult decisions of their time and decided not to have Bonfire, in his honor. All work on Bonfire was stopped as Head Yell leader at the time, Mike Marlow said, "It’s the most we have, it’s the least we can give."

2. The second year that Bonfire did not burn was 92 years after bonfire first began, almost to the hour, on November 18, 1999 at 2:42 am. The Bonfire stack collapsed and took with it the lives of twelve of our fellow Aggies and injured twenty-seven others. The Bonfire collapse was quite probably the most trying event in the history of Texas A&M, but it also allowed us to better understand the true meaning of the Aggie Spirit. Many of us believe that Bonfire did burn that year when 90,000 Aggies, friends, and families gathered at the Polo Fields on the night Bonfire was to burn to silently hold candles together. Truly, it was a beautiful Bonfire and a display of the burning Aggie Spirit in all of us. Even though Bonfire may never burn again or be the same as it was prior to 1999, the burning desire that every Aggie holds in his/her heart for the Aggie Family can never be extinguished.


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Fish Camp 


Every year about 1,100 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, Texas, 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.


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Gig 'em


Gig ‘Em is the universal sign of approval for Aggies. Coined by P.L. "Pinkie" Downs, Class of1906, when at a Yell Practice before the 1930 TCU football game Downs asked, "What are we going to do with those Horned Frogs?" and answered, "Gig ‘Em Aggies!" (from frog hunting). For emphasis he made a fist with his thumb extended up. It was the first hand sign of the Southwest Conference for 25 years until t.u. copied the idea from the Aggies and created their Hook ’em Horns. Now Aggies give each other this sign to encourage and motivate each other.


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Howdy


Howdy is the official greeting of Texas A&M University! Greeting each other with a “Howdy!” separates us as the friendliest University in the world. This is the way that we make sure no one on our campus feels like a stranger. No one really knows how this tradition originated, but it is a tradition we encourage everyone to carry on!


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Midnight Yell


Beginning in 1913 corps companies would practice and learn yells; "learning heartily the old time prep." The Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas yells were first described as being “scientific” due to the precision of the yells and the ability of the corps members to yell in perfect unison. Aggies in 1934 said that yell practice was “something that cannot be experienced by an outsider” and “something only an Aggie can feel."

In 1931, the first official Midnight Yell Practice was held before the t.u. game. That night, some cadets in Peanut Owen’s dorm room in Puryear Hall had the idea of getting all the freshmen to fall out and meet on the steps of the YMCA building to practice yells. They asked the two head yell leaders at the time, Horsefly Berryhill and Two Gun Parker from Sherman,  to attend.  The two said they couldn’t authorize it, but they just might happen to show up. The rumor spread and everyone fell out of their dorms that night. Railroad flares and torpedoes were stuck into flowerpots around the YMCA building to light the area.

After Peanut Owens became Yell Leader, it became a tradition to walk back and forth.  This is because Peanut Owens' feet were too big to fit on the steps of the YMCA building, so he paced in order to keep his balance, and the other Yell Leaders joined in.

Today, Midnight Yell is held the Friday night before a home game in Kyle Field or the Thursday night before an away game on the Quad and also close to where the game is being held out of town. Aggies practice yells and sing songs for the next day’s game, the yell leaders tell a junior and a senior fable, and then the lights go out. That is when you get to kiss your date, or if you don’t have a date, take a lighter and "flick your bic" and hope to find a random mug.


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Muster


Muster represents the Aggie Spirit that binds Aggies to their school and to one another. It is more than a ceremony; it is a responsibility that is handed down from one generation to the next. Muster is a way for Aggies to renew their loyalty to their school and their friends.

Aggie Muster is a special time set aside to honor members of the Aggie Family. Aggie Muster traces its roots back to “San Jacinto Day” which was a Texas holiday in the 1840s that celebrated Texans defeat of the Mexican Army in the battle of San Jacinto. As a part of the celebration in the 1890s, The Corps of Cadets were invited to play the Mexican Army in the reenactment of the Battle for Texas Independence. The State Guard played the Texans, however, since Aggies cannot stand to lose, the Aggies “rewrote history” and continually won the battles. In 1897, the Cadets were no longer invited to participate in the reenactment.

In 1899, the Cadets then decided to continue the celebrations on campus and held a San Jacinto Field Day on April 21. It was a day of fun and activities without class. In 1903, the President Houston proposed canceling the Field Day, but 300 Aggies marched on his lawn to insist its observance and he returned the Field Day.

During the World Wars, this tradition of meeting on April 21 evolved to include a memoriam for those who were absent. In WWI, Aggies met all over the trenches of Europe and at army posts all over America. The most famous Aggie Muster was held during WWII in 1942 on the small island of Corregidor in the Philippines. Major General George Moore ’08 led a group of recently commissioned Aggies in a moment to honor the valiant Aggies who had died, hold a yell practice, and sing the War Hymn with all their strength, all under heavy enemy fire.

In 1924, the first campus Muster was held in Guion Hall, and Muster has been held on campus since. Campus Muster is now the largest of the over 400 Musters held worldwide. Campus Muster is an all-day affair that starts with a flag raising ceremony at sunrise. The 50-year reunion class is invited back to campus for a Camaraderie BBQ where they share old Aggie “war stories” and current students tell new Aggie “war stories”.

At 7PM, the Muster ceremony begins. A speaker addresses the reunion class and the student body. The Roll Call for the Absent is read, listing the name of every local Aggie, who has passed away in the past year, as well as all missing members of the 50 year reunion class. As each name is read, a candle is lit, and family and friends answer here to symbolize that while that Aggie has fallen, they are still with us in spirit. Then, the Ross Volunteer Firing Squad fires three volleys of seven shots and Silver Taps is played. The Muster ceremony is adjourned until the next year.


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Replant


Replant is one of the largest student-run, environmental service projects in the nation. It was originally developed by Scott Hantman to replenish some of the trees cut for the Bonfire. In the Spring of 1991, he joined Bonfire leaders and planted 400 trees.

In 1994, it became an SGA committee that works year-round coordinating the event. They are sponsored by Texas A&M, the National Tree Trust, and the Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Somerville.

Hundreds of trees are planted each year by thousands of student volunteers from A&M and the Bryan/College Station area. Trees are planted at local parks, schools, and other public land properties. All trees are donated by the National Tree Trust.

 

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Reveille


Reveille is known as the First Lady of Texas A&M and is our official mascot. While there are many stories as to how Reveille came to Aggieland, Aggie Legend has it that Reveille came to us in January of 1931 when some cadets found a mutt on their way back from Navasota and they took her back to the dorm and hid her, since pets weren’t allowed. The next morning when Reveille was blown to wake the cadets, she started barking and went wild, giving her the unique name we know her by today.

At half time the following football season, she was officially named the mascot of Texas A&M when she led the band onto the field. Reveille I died on January 18, 1944 after 13 years as the mascot. She was given a formal military funeral at Kyle Field including a 21 gun salute. She is buried at the entrance to The Zone, with all the Reveilles, where they have a special scoreboard so that they can always keep an eye on how the game is going.

Originally Reveille was given free reign of the campus and she was not attended to by one person but since 1960 she has been cared for by a Mascot Corporal who is a sophomore in Company E-2 in the Corps of Cadets. The Mascot Corporal is chosen within his unit each Spring Semester and she lives with him for that year, goes to class with him, out on dates, and goes home with him for the holidays. He, in turn, travels with her to all of her functions and Aggie engagements.

Rev is the most powerful dog in the world. She is the highest-ranking member in the Corps of Cadets and wears five diamonds (the Corps Commander only has four). That means if Rev wants your bed, you’d better find somewhere else to sleep since she outranks you. It’s also a tradition that if Reveille is in your class and barks, the professor is supposed to let you out of class because Ms. Reveille is bored. 

The current Rev is Reveille VIII, who has been the official mascot since 2008.  She is from Topeka, Kansas.  She was born May 23, 2006, and is thus seven years old.


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Silver Taps


Silver Taps is one of the most sacred and significant traditions at A&M and is one of the main things that hold the Aggie Spirit together. Silver Taps is one of the final tributes held for any current graduate or undergraduate student who has passed during the year.

Currently, it is held the first Tuesday of the month following a student’s death. Starting in the morning, the flags on campus are flown at half-mast. The names, class, and major of the fallen Aggies are on cards placed at the base of the flagpole in the Academic Plaza and on the Silver Taps Memorial. Throughout the day, students can write letters to the families of the fallen Aggies. That night at 10:15, all the lights on campus are extinguished. Hymns are then played on the Albritton Bell Tower, always including “How Great Though Art” and ending in “Amazing Grace.” Around this time, students gather silently in the Academic Plaza. The families of the fallen Aggies are also led into the plaza. At 10:30, the Ross Volunteer Firing Squad marches into the Academic Plaza at a slow cadence. Once they arrive, they fire a three volley salute in honor of the fallen Aggies. After the last round is fired, buglers atop the Academic Building begin to play a special rendition of “Taps” called “Silver Taps” which is unique to A&M. They play is 3 times, once to the North, once to the South, and once to the West, but never to the East, because it said the sun will never rise on that Aggie again. After the last note is played, all you can hear is the shuffling of feet as students return silently to their lives.

Silver Taps has been occurring for over 100 years, way back to the first Silver Taps in 1898 for Lawrence Sullivan Ross. At Silver Taps, you stand where Aggies have stood for generations. You are connected to those who have come before you. It is also a tradition unique to A&M because no other University in the world honors students in this way.  It is important to keep such a wonderful, meaningful tradition as an integral part of our university and its core values.


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 T-Camp


It has been said that when an Aggie graduates, the most important thing he or she walks away with is not the diploma or Aggie Ring, but the connection to the Aggie Family. Transfer Camp, or T-Camp, is a 3-day, 2-night, extended orientation program that introduces transfer students to the many opportunities that exist at Texas A&M and the long-standing traditions that embody the true meaning of being an Aggie. The idea for T-Camp came from transfer students themselves; they wanted an extended orientation experience similar to Fish Camp, but specifically for transfer students. T-Camp became “A Transfer’s First Tradition” in 1987. Today, this student-run organization is composed of over 100 current students, and welcomes around 500 new Aggies into the Aggie Family each year.


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The Corps of Cadets


 

Texas A&M was established as a military institution.  While participation became voluntary in 1965, the Corps of Cadets has played an important part in its history and development.

 

The Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M is not just another ROTC unit that might be found at most campuses. The 2,000 men and women of the Corps form the largest uniformed body of students outside the service academies. However, the Corps has more to offer than just military training. It is a tightly-knit group of students that offers camaraderie, as well as leadership training that is useful in all post-college careers. Although cadets can earn commissions as military officers, membership in the Corps itself carries no military obligation. In fact, only about 40 percent of graduating cadets are commissioned, while the rest pursue civilian careers.

 

Cadets are given an opportunity to live a disciplined lifestyle while gaining practical experience in leadership and organizational management. Their participation in the Corps operations allows them to hone these skills daily. The Corps of Cadets is the heartbeat of Texas A&M and the unique spirit and traditions that make Texas A&M special are deeply rooted in the Corps experience. For that reason, the Corps has been long regarded as the Founder of Tradition and Keepers of the Spirit of Aggieland.

 

Texas A&M has rich military history. More than 250 of its graduates have become generals or admirals. More Aggies were commissioned and fought in World War II than men from West Point or Annapolis.

Texas A&M was established as a military institution.  While participation became voluntary in 1965, the Corps of Cadets has played an important part in its history and development.
 
The Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M is not just another ROTC unit that might be found at most campuses. The men and women of the Corps form the largest uniformed body of students outside the service academies. However, the Corps has more to offer than just military training. It is a tightly-knit group of students that offers camaraderie, as well as leadership training that is useful in all post-college careers. Although cadets can earn commissions as military officers, membership in the Corps itself carries no military obligation. In fact, only about 40 percent of graduating cadets are commissioned, while the rest pursue civilian careers.

Cadets are given an opportunity to live a disciplined lifestyle while gaining practical experience in leadership and organizational management. Their participation in the Corps operations allows them to hone these skills daily. The Corps of Cadets is the heartbeat of Texas A&M and the unique spirit and traditions that make Texas A&M special are deeply rooted in the Corps experience. For that reason, the Corps has been long regarded as the Founder of Tradition and Keepers of the Spirit of Aggieland.
 
Texas A&M has rich military history. More than 250 of its graduates have become generals or admirals. More Aggies were commissioned and fought in World War II than men from West Point or Annapolis.

 

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