2319A WORDSWORTH ▪
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
|“Aggie For A Day”||
|By: Ron Brounes||
many Texas Aggies does it take to screw in a light bulb? Actually, I think I may have told my last
Aggie joke for a while. (Then again, “a
while” is a very relative time frame that is subject to change.) One of
the greatest responsibilities of becoming a T-Sip is the unmitigated grief we
are supposed to give to our Aggie brethren about anything and everything. Since arriving in
start with, their cheerleaders probably won’t be doing a spread in Playboy anytime soon. Those trend setting burr haircuts (on the
female students, that is), have yet to catch on at other campuses across the
country. Their mascot is a puppy dog
(and not even a very ferocious dog at that). UT has had TAMU’s
number athletically for a while (last football season notwithstanding) and we
are hoping to continue to get much more leverage out of Coach Fran jokes for
years to come. (Looks like
My dad was a loyal Former Student who took all of the good-natured ribbing in fun and rarely dished out any of his own (not that he had many opportunities). I even recall a few of my fellow Longhorns going too far at various times and directing their excessive Aggie criticisms at my dad, only to be greeted with a warm smile and an understated chuckle rather than a sarcastic rebuttal that would have been more than appropriate.
He had been a proud member of the Corp of Cadets. After graduating, he served his country in WWII. I even have his old Aggie Corp saber in my home (though the baby-proofers insisted we keep it out of Emmy’s reach). He respected all of the Aggie traditions (as strange as we may have found them) and even struggled with the Administration’s decision to eliminate the Bonfire after the tragedy in 1999. At the time, I was amazed that this extremely conservative man (in demeanor and actions, not in politics) could defend a tradition that cost several students their lives. And, yet, Dad was so strong in his support of the Texas A&M traditions and what they represented that he could not bear the thought that one dating back 90 years could be disregarded without a comprehensive discussion and examination of the pros and cons.
Turning the clock back a few years, I grew up as much more of an Aggie fan than a Longhorn (it took me about 25 years to admit that). Our family attended several games a year at Kyle Field where I rooted on the defensive exploits of Dave Elmondorf, Ed Simonini, Lester (stick-em) Hayes, and Pat Thomas. I “wooed” the running ability of George Woodard and hoped that Skip Walker and Bubba Bean would lead that Emory Bellard wishbone attack to prominence. (Of course, the wins were few and far between before the Jackie Sherrill “cheating” era.) I knew that Aggie War Hymn by memory and loved swaying in the stands to “Saw Varsity’s Horns off” as my folks shared a peck on the cheek following each (rare) Aggie score. We celebrated near-victories (after yell practice, of course) at the Hillel House where my dad served on the exec board and even furnished the place with new furniture. I aspired to follow in his footsteps and wear the proud maroon and white during my college years as well until peer pressure (and a dose of reality) set in during my senior year in high school. (That and I prefer my cheerleaders without burr haircuts.)
A TIME-HONORED TRADITION
few weeks ago, my family and I participated in another Aggie tradition that I’m
sure my friends and I have ridiculed in the past (certainly because of our lack
of understanding of its spirit and meaning).
Each year on April 21, current and Former Students gather in various
venues across the world for Aggie Muster, “the roll call for the absent.” This tradition dates back to 1883, but gained
national prominence in 1942 when a group of WWII soldiers came together in the
must admit, I was not particularly looking forward to attending a function
where I would be surrounded by men/woman in crew cuts and maroon slacks,
yelling “wup” every few minutes, while still reliving
every single play from last year’s UT/TAMU football game. Get a life!!!
(Do they not remember that our quarterback was injured, the weather was
horrendous, and we were subject to some incredibly poor officiating that
afternoon?) Instead I found a room
filled with heartfelt memories and moving tributes about those recently
deceased individuals and the love they felt for their University. The program handout listed the names of all
the local Aggies who had died over the previous 12
months. I was struck by the number of
“kids” who gave their lives in defense of their country in
We watched the ceremony with tears in our eyes as, one by one, individuals rose to answer for their loved ones. Some cried; some smiled; some stood emotionless; all displayed a sense of pride for their school that I believe very few (non-Ags) feel. Sure, we T-Sips (and alums at other schools) revel in our team’s athletic accomplishments and the bragging rights that accompany them. We cheer the prominent magazines’ academic rankings that lend credibility to the quality of our educations. We share memories of frat parties and favorite watering holes and burger joints, but few of us experience the feeling of being a Texas A&M Former Student. We don’t understand the meanings of their traditions or share in that sense of brotherhood and family that come with an Aggie’s love and devotion for his/her school and each other. Throughout his life, my dad experienced that feeling: the pride, the love, the devotion, the brotherhood.
I will again be telling Aggie jokes, laughing at the burr haircuts (on the women),
and ridiculing the “silly” traditions. I
will (hopefully) again have the upper hand in athletic bragging rights and tease
my TAMU friends about the quality of life in Austin vs.