(U-WIRE) COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The feeling was not unlike waking up to news that the sun had failed to rise. A mid-November morning without the stack of logs for the bonfire was only slightly less surreal than a dawn without a daybreak.
Unfortunately, the tragic facts – at least 11 dead, dozens injured after the collapse of the stack – are only too real, and the weight of sadness on campus at Texas A&M is almost tangible.
Such a heavy burden cannot be lifted by mere words and little can be said about this 90-year-old tradition that will be remembered in another 90 years.
But to say nothing would do a disservice to the memories of our friends.
To those who knew them, we know you are hurting, but we can never know how much. The families and friends of all those affected deserve and have our sober thoughts and prayers.
To those who did not know them, we know you are hurting too. Long after we know how it happened, we will still be wondering why.
In the meantime, it is important to remember that this is a time for condolences, not quarrels.
Much will be said in the coming weeks that would be better left unsaid. For this is not the time to point fingers of blame or speculate about the future of the bonfire.
What is appropriate instead is silence.
It would be wrong to turn this tragedy into an opportunity for loud debate. The lives lost are worth much more than angry arguments, and respectful reflection should not give way to wrangling over traditions.
If there is a lesson to be learned from this horrible accident, it will strike at the very heart of who we are as human beings.
It will remind us of the inevitable fragility of life and the enduring stability of friendship. And it will teach us more than we ever knew about the indomitable strength of the Aggie spirit – the spirit of Texas A&M.
What remains, then, is not to despair, but instead to discover our true worth – to do better with the lives we have been given in honor of the lives that have been taken. There is nothing else to do.
Already, the A&M community exemplified the truism that the worst of times brings out the best in people.
Concerned students, staff and community residents have generously provided resources of hope and shoulders of help.
But Aggies expect no less, and we know we will recover from this blow with the dignity and determination that make this University great. Flags flying at half-mast are not indicative of half-hearted Aggies. Our hearts are full and hopeful.
It will take time to come to terms with what seems so surreal. But in the end, we will have learned that in life, the real stuff is the rough stuff. And the rough stuff makes us stronger.
-Staff editorial from The Battalion (Texas A&M).