COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Twenty years ago, tragedy struck Texas A&M.
The bonfire was an annual tradition at the campus and every year students looked forward to the lighting of the massive structure, and 1999 was no different.
Construction of the 59-foot stack of around 5,000 logs had started and it was expected to be lit on Nov. 25, 1999, but the structure never got a chance to light up the campus.
On Nov. 18, 1999, at 2:42 a.m., the structure collapsed, and of the 58 people working on the structure, 12 were killed and 27 were injured.
Now, 20 years later, thousands gathered Monday at 2:42 a.m. for a memorial honoring those lost after a nearly-100-year-old tradition unexpectedly took the lives of those 12 people.
While many students in attendance were not alive on that fateful day, their Aggie Spirit was strong as they remembered their predecessors.
"99% of the people here did not know those victims, but we feel like we know them because we a part of that family, we are a part that spirit and we keep it going every year," said student, Patrick Hernandez.
During the ceremony, attendees sang songs and names the 12 victims – symbolizing that while they may be gone, their spirits live on with the Aggies.
"Even though bonfire doesn't burn, the spirit burns 20 years later," said student, Michael Osborne. "It's important to carry on the legacy of not only of bonfire, but of the Aggie spirit all these years later to remember them and to honor their legacy."