HOUSTON – On Monday, the Texas A&M community paid respects to their fellow Aggies, in remembrance of the tragic bonfire collapse which occurred 20 years ago.
In 1999, 12 Aggies were killed and 27 other students were injured when a bonfire built of thousands of logs collapsed. Five years after the accident, a memorial was dedicated at the exact location.
The Bonfire Memorial is compromised of three areas — Tradition Plaza, History Walk and Spirit Ring.
Visitors begin their experience at Tradition Plaza. A vertical wall serves to the separate the peace and intimacy of the memorial from the outside world. The wall is engraved with words of The Last Corps Trip, a poem recited before the annual bonfire lighting.
The History Walk is built of 89 granite blocks, representing the number of years the Bonfire event was held before the collapse in 1999. Bronze plaques are included on block representing the years 1955, 1982 and 1996 in memoriam of students killed in Bonfire-related accidents during those years. A back slab represents the year 1963, memorializing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In more detail, the walk is illuminated at night to symbolize the burning Bonfire.
Twelve portals located around the perimeter of the ring, represent the 12 fallen Aggies of the 1999 collapse. Each portal is placed to face the direction of each student's hometown. The ring is 170 feet in diameter, replicating the fence of the bonfire stack. Placed at the center of the ring, in the exact spot of the Bonfire Centerpole, is a black granite-marker engraved "11-18-1999 2:42 a.m.," the date and time of the tragic collapse.
A remembrance program took place Sunday at 8 p.m. at Reed Arena in College Station. On the 20-year anniversary, which is Monday, a candlelight vigil was held at 2:42 a.m. at the Bonfire Memorial.
For more information regarding the events and history of the Bonfire, visit Texas A&M online.