My roommate at the time and I were awaken that morning with a call from his father informing us of the collapse. All day the news helicopters circled the campus trying to get the best shot. Signs reminding us to call home were posted on campus. As all know, 12 of our best and brightest students were lost forever in the tragedy. These students were valvictorians, Eagle Scouts, extraordinary men and women. They were doing something they loved, something for an institution they loved.
It was the hardest day in most of our young lifes. No one knew what to do. We just seemed to hold on to each other and keep going. It was the most incredible time in my life. As the afternoon went on, spontaneous prayer groups met. It is quite a site to see a prayer gathering at a secular unviersity where you can't see the ground for all the people kneeling in prayer. The the memorial service after the program was over I will never forget as we all spontaneously put our arms around each other and sang Amazing Grace. Truely amazing the way the campus came together in our worst moment.
The football game with our rivals, the University of Texas followed the day after Thanksgiving. We build Bonfire to demostrate our burning desire to beat the hell out of t.u. (as we call UT). I don't think anyone knew how to act. But again, we all just hung onto to each other and kept going, yelling our lungs out as A&M upset the Longhorns. I remember telling my mother before the game that I didn't think I could do it, but I did, we all did.
Bonfire, if it never comes back, in it's last hurrah took from us 12 of the greatest kids you would ever be pleased to know, and also it did what it has always done, united a diverse group of students and former students into one big family. I will never forget those 12, nor will I ever forget that terrible, yet remarkable time in my life. Softly call the Muster, let comrade answer "here"...
Timothy Kerlee, Jr.