The phone rang four hours later. I groggily opened an eye just enough to read the caller ID. It was my mother.
"Becky, are you okay?" "Yeah mom." "Bonfire fell." "Okay."
And then it was back to sleep. Until a loud knock, no pounding was more like it, on our door. It was our RA.
"Bonfire fell. We're doing a head check." "We're both here."
And that's when I realized. Bonfire had really fallen.
12 died. 27 were injured. A school and her students would never be the same.
That was ten years ago today. And ten years later, I can vividly remember walking across campus to my 8 o'clock class. A campus that was broken by a tragedy it never saw coming. Never thought possible.
I remember the sound of the helicopter over the polo fields, where stack used to stand tall and proud. I remember the dazed look I saw on other students' faces that was a mirror image of my own.
I remember all the events and emotions of that day with a clarity that before November 18, 1999 I never would have thought possible. Everything from sitting in my dorm room watching the news to deciding to go to the memorial service at the last minute and being one of the last people allowed in Reed Arena because it was so packed.
How at the end of the service we started singing Amazing Grace and arms were thrown across the shoulders of strangers as we swayed and leaned on each other in our mutual grief. To this day, I cannot hear that song without tears threatening to appear.
The emotions and memories of that day flood me every time I visit the Bonfire Memorial.
There's a saying at A&M. "From the inside looking out, you can't explain it. From the outside looking in, you can't understand it." (Or vica versa. I can never remember if it starts with inside or outside.)
To some of you, Texas A&M is a big rival, one to be beaten and crushed on the field of sports. To others, all you may know of the school is it is that place that one time had a bunch of logs fall (When I lived in Boston and told people I went to A&M for undergrad, I did get a few responses that were along the lines of, 'Oh, that place where the bunch of logs fell." True story.)
Just know, that for us Aggies today, though 10 years has passed, we still feel the loss. And for this Aggie, who has never seen Bonfire burn and never will until it returns to campus (if it ever returns to campus), this favorite Aggie song brings chills because to me it's what an Aggie is.
Some may boast of prowess bold
Of the school they think so grand
But there's a spirit can ne'er be told
It's the Spirit of Aggieland.
We are the Aggies - the Aggies are we
True to each other as Aggies can be
We've got to FIGHT boys
We've got to fight!
We've got to fight for Maroon and White
After they've boosted all the rest
They will come and join the best
For we are the Aggies - the Aggies are we
We're from Texas A.M.C.