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Posted by on Nov 18, 2009 in Education, Places, Society | 0 comments

We Remember: Ten Years Ago at Texas A&M University


Over the weekend, I wrote a lighthearted piece on one of the ways the Aggies are preparing for the big Thanksgiving football game against their archrival, the University of Texas.

Exactly 10 years ago tonight, the Aggies were also preparing for the game, when tragedy struck.

One of the great traditions at Texas A& M—a 90-year-old tradition—has been to build a huge bonfire stack and to burn it a couple of days before the Thanksgiving game against the Longhorns.

The burning of the Bonfire symbolizes the Aggies’ “burning desire to beat the hell out of” the University of Texas.

Over the years, the Aggie Bonfire grew to an immense size, eventually becoming “the biggest bonfire in the world.”

And so, on the night of November 17, 1999, the Aggies were busy putting the finishing touches on another gigantic bonfire, a structure that was going to be four stories high, almost 60 feet, and built with over 5,000 tree-sized logs—a structure that by early morning, November 18, had already reached 45 feet in height.

Then, at 2:42 a.m. the unbelievable happened.

The Aggie Bonfire structure suddenly collapsed.

The tragedy killed 12—11 Texas A&M students and one former student—and injured 27 others.

Jamie Hand, a native of Henderson, Texas, and a Texas A&M freshman at the time, was one of those killed during the horrible tragedy.

This morning (Wednesday), exactly 10 years later, a candlelight vigil is being held in College Station at the Texas A&M Bonfire Memorial at 2:42 a.m.

According to the East Texas, Jamie’s parents, Larry and Neva Hand, will be at Texas A&M for the 10-year anniversary. They will be at the 2:42 a.m. candlelight vigil in honor of their daughter and 11 others, and to award a student a scholarship in Jamie’s name.

We’ll be thinking of Jamie, the other Aggies who died that early morning and of the Aggie Spirit.

Dorian de Wind ‘69

Image: Courtesy


This post was written and posted around midnight 17-18 November. “Tonight” in “Exactly 10 years ago tonight” refers to Tuesday night, November 17.

“This morning” refers to Wednesday morning, November 18.

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