Saturday, April 20, 2013

Being an Aggie

Texas A&M University has gotten a lot of press in the past year.  An outstanding season of football.  A Heisman Trophy winner.

That’s all exciting, and Aggies everywhere are proud of their team and excited for what’s to come this season.

But what truly makes Aggies proud is what their school stands for.

I’m sure most of you have heard about the explosion in the town of West, Texas earlier this week.

Leave it to Aggieland to band together in a time of need.

This is a letter from one of the local business owners in College Station:

Dear My Fellow Aggies,

I write you this Thank You letter today to express in words of what my heart felt as we collected supplies all day following with the intense emotions upon arrival to the WestFest Fairgrounds in West, Texas. Yesterday was a day that Aggies and Aggieland will be proud of for the next century.

In a joint effort orchestrated by over 15 local businesses with Aggieland Outfitters as the lead, 3 student organizations, 200 plus aggie volunteers, and countless generous donators, we delivered approximately 226,500 pounds (Over 113 Tons-equal to the weight of Boeing 757) of supplies in two 53’ Semi-trailers, two 35’ Trailers, three 15’ moving vans, one RV, one moving trailer, and convoy of personal vehicles. We also delivered over $15,000 in cash donations to the town leaders. You want to know the most amazing part? We had delivered all this within 24 hours of the accident. There is no other way to classify this extraordinary effort other than to just say “There’s a spirit can ne’er be told.”

Now I want to tell you a story Ags.

One that will make your emotions run and heart cry. This is for all those who donated and gave their time but could not make the trip. You deserve to know how your hard work paid off. So I share this story with you so you can experience the same gratifying feelings I felt.
We arrived in West around 7pm, there were EMS, emergency vehicles, state trucks, and utility vehicles scattered throughout the entire town. I even saw one vehicle tagged with Comal County on the side of it. We pulled our Aggie Convoy of 20 plus vehicles into the fairgrounds. I was fortunate to be the driver in the lead vehicle so I got to receive the first wave of thank yous and emotions. As we came in the men were walking up to my truck to direct me, but others to just shake our hands. We drove down to the drop off point, and at the last checkpoint, the traffic director stopped me; he asked if we were with the ‘Aggie Convoy’? I replied “Yes Sir”, and he stated “we have been waiting on you, and we have the entire loading dock area open for you guys.” Some people begin to cheer and were eager to help unload, some just stood awe struck, while others snapped photos on their phones. The crowd was large mixes of local students, families, parents, business owners, and of course their Hometown Aggies. There was lots of maroon already walking around. As I hopped out of my truck, one of the men who was directing us came to shake my hand, but we ended up giving each other that manly shake/hug, he broke away from me with tears in his eyes. This is when the surrealism set in, overcome by everything, exhaustion, and emotion; I went into a daze where other convoy people were talking to me, but I felt like they were yelling from the distant background. It was a one of the most amazing feelings I have ever felt. I shook loose of the stupor only to then realize all the other Aggies there were the same state of surrealism.

With the help of the people there and our teams of Aggies, we got most of our convoy unloaded 100 times quicker than we loaded it. It was simply amazing of the effort there from the people of West. We began to shake more hands, local Aggies came up to meet us. One Aggie man came walking up in tears and just bear hugged one of the Aggieland Outfitter’s employees. I saw some children digging in the piles of clothes and putting on Aggie Tshirts. I was constantly told by people and the local aggies, tell everyone in Aggieland Thank You! After lots of hugs and hand shaking, we broke off in teams and begin to help unload other vehicles with the West locals. Some of the people there had no homes to go to while others were working hard to ease their minds over their loved ones. They were incredibly strong town and independently helping themselves. There was no Red Cross or Fema to direct or lead them; these people were doing all themselves. The people of West Texas are what make this country so great, but they will still need our help. So please do not stop praying for West and continue to help them in this time of need.

On the last semi-trailer full of water, we formed a long water line to pass water off the truck, half way thru we begin to sing the Aggie War Hymn. That’s when I said to God, “Thank You God for making me a Fight’in Texas Aggie“.

THANK YOU Aggieland and all Aggies who helped in this effort,

God bless,
Cameron Salome ‘07
Proud Aggie
Part-Owner/Manager of College Depot

Special Thanks to:
Aggieland Outfitters
Texas A&M Students
Student Bonfire
Jack Hillard Distributing
BCS Chamber of Commerce
AT&T
D&D Moving & Storage
Maroon Bikes
KBTX
TexAgs
KAGS
KORA
Big Event
Raising Canes

While I love my football team, it is things like this that make my heart swell with pride.

And this was not the first time Aggies have taken a stand together.

Back in July over 600 Aggies stood in silent vigil forming a “Maroon Wall” in front of Central Baptist Church in College Station to block Westboro Church protesters from Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale’s funeral.

Maroon Wall
(Source)

On the first Tuesday of each month the student body gathers at Academic Plaza at 10:15pm in total silence to honor current students who have passed away the previous month in a Silver Taps ceremony.  While campus lights are extinguished, cell phones are turned off, and students stand in silence, hymns chime from Albritton Tower followed by the Ross Volunteer Firing Squad marching into the plaza firing three rifle volleys and buglers playing a special rendition of Silver Taps.  Silver Taps is played three times – once to the north, once to the south, and once to the west, but never to the east because the sun will never rise again on those fallen Aggies.  After the buglers play, students silently return home.

My first experience with just how special the Aggie student body is was on September 22, 2001.  I was a senior in high school and was still undecided about where I wanted to go to college.  My family and I had tickets to the Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State football game, our first trip to Kyle Field.  It had been published all of the local newspapers that students were coordinating a “Red, White, and Blue Out” as a 9/11 tribute.  Depending on where your seats were, you were supposed to wear either a red, white, or blue shirt.  My family and I walked into Kyle Field in our white shirts, but we were not prepared for the overwhelming act of patriotism.  A crowd of 70,000 were all decked out in red, white, and blue (other than the corps block) and more than $150,000 was raised for the New York Fire and Police relief funds from the sale of t-shirts.  And all of this was coordinated by students.  In about 10 days.  It was at that football game that I decided that I was going to be an Aggie too.

Red_white_and_blue_out_display_image
(Source)

And tomorrow Aggies all over the world will come together in over 300 different Muster ceremonies to pay tribute to all current and former Aggies that have passed away in the past year.  From College Station, Texas, to the fields of Afghanistan, and from warships in the middle of the ocean to the outback of Australia, Aggies answer “here” during a roll call of fallen Aggies.

Softly call the Muster,
Let comrade answer, “Here!”
Their spirits hover ‘round us
As if to bring us cheer!

Mark them ‘present’ in our hearts.
We’ll meet some other day
There is no death, but life etern
For our old friends such as they!

Muster
Muster 2010 – Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan

Becoming an Aggie was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  We are not just a school.  We are a family.

“There’s a spirit can ne’er be told
It’s the spirit of Aggieland.”

2 comments:

Sarah said...

Tagged you in my post today Mama! Have a great weekend!

Leah said...

This gave me chills multiple times. I am not an Aggie (or a Longhorn for that matter), but I am from Texas and now the hearts of the people there are almost as big as the state. Love this!
Leah @ Simple.Home.Blessings.