This past weekend was nearly perfect. The Aggies won, there was a baptism, I got to hang out with my friends, I got to watch my little brother march into the game, and I got to see my all-time favorite missionary! I also went around campus and got a lot of good pictures for the polaroid album I’m making for my missionary’s birthday.
On Saturday morning, one of my friends got baptized. It was a pretty incredible experience to witness. There were a lot of people there to support her. We sang some hymns and some of her close friends and family members bore their testimonies and gave talks on baptism and the gifts she’d be receiving. Her brother-in-law got the be the one to baptize her. That must have been awesome for the both of them. The missionaries also got up front and sang Come Thou Fount. They sounded pretty good!
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
After that I took some of the elders and my roommate to the Institute where we just hung out. The sisters came while my roommate was unveiling his list of the top missionaries he’s met so far. While the missionaries were pleading their cases on why they deserved to be higher on the list, I went across the street to campus so I could watch my brother march in. While I was waiting in the Quad for him, this lady and her family decided to stand directly in front of me. I didn’t move an inch. They were uncomfortably close to me but I was there first! For every selfie they took, I stared directly into the camera. I was basically breathing down the lady’s neck.
I ended up not seeing my brother because I couldn’t find him in the formations. All the corps guys basically look the same and I couldn’t find his squadron’s flag. I was there, though. At least I got some good polaroids of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band and one of Reveille (A&M’s mascot)! I’m a little torn on if I want to give the one of Reveille to my favorite missionary or if I want to keep it for myself. I think I can make the sacrifice for her!
After the Corps marched past me, I decided it would be the perfect time to go around to some iconic spots on campus and get some polaroids. It was some good timing because everyone was heading to the game so there weren’t that many people crowding the statues and landmarks that I wanted to get pictures of. My favorite pictures from that day were probably the ones of Sully, the Century Tree, and the big Aggie ring. In case you don’t know what those things are, I’ll explain them.
Lawrence Sullivan Ross was the first president of Texas A&M. It’s said that students used to go to his office to get help with their studies and they were so grateful for his help that they would offer to pay him. He wouldn’t accept their money but instead asked for a penny for their thoughts. That started the tradition of us putting a penny on Sully’s statue before we take an exam. Some people have tried to petition to get Sully’s statue taken down based the fact that he was a Confederate general and on an unfounded accusation that he was in the KKK. I am not one of those people and will not let Sully be taken down but that’s for another blog post.
The Century Tree
The Century Tree is a 100+ year old live oak and one of the first trees planted on the Texas A&M campus. The tradition goes that if you and your boyfriend or girlfriend walk under it together, you’ll get married and if you propose under it, your marriage will last forever. If I ever propose, I’m gonna try and do it under that tree but we’ll see. Some people also say that if you walk under it alone, you’ll be forever alone. I used to have a class right on the other side of the tree where it would be easier to walk under it than around it. Even in the pouring rain, I would walk all the way around that tree. Couldn’t risk it.
The Aggie ring is probably one of the most recognizable symbols of Texas A&M. Every Aggie has the opportunity to get one once they’ve completed 90 hours. It’s a huge deal to get one. You’re basically wearing you blood, sweat, and tears right there on your finger and showing the world that you’re an Aggie. Aggies get their rings on their designated Ring Day at the Alumni Center. In front of the center is a massive replica of the Aggie ring that people love to take pictures under.
Another tradition involving the ring is the Ring Dunk. Once you get that thousand dollar ring, you drop it in a pitcher full of beer. Then you chug the pitcher and catch the ring in your teeth! It took me about a minute to finish my pitcher and then I threw up right after. I was one of the last people who got to have a pitcher with the original (read: not hideous or created by Nike) TAMU seal on it. The board of regents went ahead and ruined everything after that. But that’s also for another blog post.
After I finished sweating to death in the pursuit of the perfect polaroids for my missionary, I took the other missionaries around campus (looking for potential investigators just in case anyone asks). They actually got a Corps guy who was interested in learning more. Here’s how that conversation started off:
Cadet: What are y’all doing here all dressed up?
Elder: We’re missionaries from the church.
Cadet: Oh cool what church?
Elder: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Cadet: Oooh Mormons!
Elder: …yes *sorry President Nelson*
After that I showed them the Reveille graveyard (we’re on Reveille IX right now) and then we went to the Bonfire Memorial. If you don’t know, A&M used to light a huge bonfire on campus before the annual Thanksgiving game. We still have one but we’re not allowed to have it on campus anymore.
The reason the school doesn’t it on campus is because on November 18, 1999 at 2:42 am, the bonfire collapsed and 12 Aggies lost their lives. It was a tragedy that rocked the community but also showed the resilience of the Aggie spirit. The memorial consists of a stone with the date and time of the collapse etched on its face surrounded by twelve portals. One portal for each victim. The portals have an etching of the Aggie along with some information about them. Each portal is facing the hometown of the Aggie it represents. You can learn more here.
It was a somber experience walking in the middle of that memorial at night. There was no one there but me and the elders. The only noise we could hear were the passing cars and a few shouts from Kyle Field. I hope they enjoyed the experience and were able to take something away from it. I know I was.
It was a great way to cap off a great day. The weekend ended on an even higher note but that’s going to get its own post.