Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A maroon and black day

Texas A & M University was dedicated on October 4, 1876 as Texas’ first public higher education institution. The site of the institution was a spot in east Central Texas that was so remote that it was only marked by a stop on the train line from Dallas to Houston (thus, the town of College Station was born). The legislation that created the land grant college system, and thus Texas A&M, mandated military training as well as academic education. For virtually its first century, then, A & M was an all-male military college, with all students enrolling as members of the Corps of Cadets. Many of A & M’s most cherished traditions, such as Bonfire, yell practice, Muster, etc., grew out of the Corps experience.

The University of Texas was first conceived by an act of the Republic of Texas legislature in 1839. Due to admission to, then secession from the Union, and the Civil War, the University was not actually established until the 1880s, holding its first classes in 1883.

The two schools became instant arch rivals.

Much of Texas A & M’s lore originated in this heyday, and persists today. The A & M fight song includes lyrics referencing this rivalry, such as “saw varsity’s horns off” (varsity—as in high school, get it?) and “’the Eyes of Texas are Upon You,’ that is the song they sing so well—sounds like hell!” The fact that this fight song is entitled “The Aggie War Hymn” speaks volumes to the depth of emotion that this rivalry invokes in the Aggie faithful, past and present. A campus motto is, “I root for the Aggies, and whoever is playing t.u.” (as Aggies refer to the Longhorns).

I am an Aggie. I bleed maroon.

But I will never understand what happened last week.

A local sporting goods store, specializing in A & M-related items, started stocking a T-shirt in preparation for the upcoming Rose Bowl. The shirts said, “Texans for Texas—Gig ‘em, Horns!” and on the back, “For one day only—beat the hell outta USC!” (“Beat the hell outta _____” is the Aggies’ most famous yell.) I thought, huh. That’s kinda cool. Bet they don’t sell a whole lot of them, but whatever.

Well, apparently, they sold hardly any.

The store had to take the shirts from their shelves and destroy them because there were so many complaints. The store owners were compared to al-Qaeda members, and there were threats to burn the store down if the shirts continued to be sold.

The United States DOD defines terrorism as "the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological."

Aggies? As terrorists? The school whose creed is “Aggies don’t lie, cheat, or steal, nor do they tolerate those who do”?

I’ll bet A & M’s seven WWII Congressional Medal of Honor winners are rolling in their graves.

I am an Aggie. I bleed maroon.

For two decades, I went to almost every Bonfire, the great student-led and -created celebration of A & M’s “burning desire to beat the hell outta t.u.” I would have gone in 1999.

But instead, as a hospital worker, I helped process the bodies of the precious, precious kids who died when stack fell.

It was one of the saddest days of my life.

Individuals, and the community, found comfort in each other and in how the community pulled together to help the fallen and their families, and the injured. The events of that tragic time helped many, myself included, to re-focus on those things that truly matter—friends, family, helping each other. Not a sports competition.

The outpouring of love and support didn’t stop at the borders of Brazos County, though.

Our arch rivals, the Longhorns, held a candlelight vigil on UT’s campus, attended by almost 10,000 people.

How soon we forget.


At 7:01 AM, Blogger Julie Gamez said...

Who was the local store? I'm a UT fan and my boss is a Red-Ass Aggie! He would love that t-shirt since he said it was one of the best games he's every watch...not including the AGs of course. Do you think you could get a number so I could check if they still have one laying around? It's a running joke with us. Thanks!

Julie Gamez

At 5:58 PM, Blogger danyah said...

It was Aggieland Outfitters, 979-764-4445 or 680-8780. Assuming the person I spoke to had the real scoop, though, they told me they destroyed all the shirts. Good luck, let me know!

At 3:06 PM, Blogger Julie Gamez said...

Greeting from Shiner:
Thank you so much! Aggieland Outfitters does not actually have it, but their sister store Inspirations does (979-764-4444). It's not the same as the picture, but better! It has "Texans for Texans" on front - UT Horns on back (sawed off horns with tape around them!) with the caption "The tape comes off January 5th!" Classic! You're the best! I rushed one in for him and am making a list of sizes for my family(They are all AGGIES!). Have a great weekend!

Julie - Hook 'em Horns!!!!!

At 6:16 PM, Blogger danyah said...

AWESOME!! Thanks!


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