The tradition of the Twelfth Man was born on the second of January 1922, when an underdog Aggie team was playing Centre College, the nation's top ranked team at the time. As the hard fought game wore on, the Aggies were forced to dig deep into their limited reserves because of injuries. Coach Dana X. Bible remembered that a former squad member, who was playing basketball at the time, was in the press box helping reporters identify players. His name was E. King Gill. Gill was called from the stands, suited up, and stood ready throughout the rest of the game… which A&M finally won 22-14. When the game ended, E. King Gill was the only man left standing on the sidelines for the Aggies. Gill later said, "I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I didn't. I simply got ready and waited--just in case I was needed."
This gesture was more than enough for the Aggie Team. Although Gill did not play in the game, he had accepted the call to help his team. He came to be known as the “Twelfth Man” because he stood ready for in case the eleven men on the gridiron needed him. That spirit of readiness for service, desire to support, and enthusiasm helped kindle a flame of devotion among the entire student body; a spirit that has grown vigorously throughout the years. The entire student body at A&M is the Twelfth Man, and they stand during the entire game to show their support. The 12th Man is always in the stands waiting to be called upon if needed.
This tradition took on a new look in the 1980's when Coach Jackie Sherrill started the 12th Man Kick-Off Team, composed of regular students through open tryouts. This 12th Man team performed very well and held opponents to one of the lowest yards per return averages in the league. Later, Head Coach R.C. Slocum changed the team to allow only one representative of the 12th Man on the kick-off team. The 12th Man tradition exists also in musical form; the student body sings “The Twelfth Man” after each game in which the Aggies are outscored.
Yell Practice began as a post dinner activity in early 1900’s, when different corps companies would gather together to "learn heartily the old time pep." However, it was not until 1931, that Midnight Yell Practice, as it is known today, was held before the t.u. game. It began, when a group of cadets were gathered in Peanut Owen's dorm room in Puryear Hall. Someone suggested that all of the freshmen should fall out and meet on the steps of the YMCA building at midnight. The cadets notified senior yell leaders Horsefly Berryhill and Two Gun Parker of their intents. Although it could not officially be authorized, they said they may just show up. Needless to say, the word spread quickly, and when the freshmen began to arrive, there were railroad flares and torpedoes stuck in flower pots around the YMCA building to light the area. The first Midnight Yell had begun!!!
Today, Midnight Yell is held the night before a home game in Kyle Field and at the Arches on Thursday nights before away games. Also for an away game, a site is designated for a Midnight Yell in the city of our opponent the night before the game. For example, for the t.u. game, it is held at the Texas Capitol in Austin.
For a yell at Kyle Field, yell leaders lead the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band and the Twelfth Man into the stadium. The yell leaders lead the crowd in old army yells, the school’s songs, and tell fables of how the Aggies are going to beat the everlivin' hell out of our opponent. Finally, the lights go out, and Aggies kiss their dates. If they don't have a date, all they have to do is “flick their Bic.” As the story goes, the flames make it easier for two dateless people to find a kiss!
The purpose of Midnight Yell is to pump up the Twelfth Man for the next day's big game!
Pinky Downs, class of 1906 and a member of the Board of Regents from 1923 to 1933, is credited with the Gig ‘Em hand sign. At the 1930 Yell Practice before the TCU football game, Downs shouted out, "What are we going to do to those Horned Frogs?" Answering his own question, he replied, “Gig ‘Em, Aggies!” while making a fist with his thumb extended. A “gig” is a spear-like tool used for hunting frogs. The gesture became known as the first hand sign of The Southwest Conference.
"Howdy" is the official greeting of Texas A&M University. It is our way of ensuring that no one feels like a stranger. The exact origin on this tradition is not known. However, "Howdy" is what sets us apart as the friendliest campus in the world.
The first Aggie Bonfire began in the early 1900's as a pile of wood and trash next to the train station. The cadets decided to make a Bonfire to congratulate the football team on their win. Although this first Bonfire was held in the early morning hours of November 18, 1907, the first on-campus Aggie Bonfire was not held until 1909.
Bonfire grew immensely through the years. The largest Bonfire was in 1969 and stood 109ft., which is only one foot shorter than Rudder tower. After that, the administration decided to regulate the Bonfire height to 55ft.
There have been two years that Bonfire did not burn. First, in 1963, following the death of President John F. Kennedy, the senior class made one of the most difficult decision of their time at Texas A&M. In honor of their president, they decided to dismantle the Bonfire, which had recently been completed. The head yell leader at the time, Mike Marlowe, was quoted as saying, "It is the most we have and the least we can give."
The second time that Bonfire was built and did not burn was in 1999. On November 18th, Bonfire fell, taking 12 of our fellow Aggies with it. This day was one of the most trying days for Aggies everywhere. At this time, Bonfire has been postponed indefinitely and no one knows if Bonfire will return. The Aggie Spirit has created the Aggie Traditions and that Aggie Spirit will thrive through the trying times.
Reveille, the first lady of Aggieland, is the official mascot of Texas A&M University. She is the highest ranking member of the Corps of Cadets, and she is a Five-Star General. Reveille I came to Texas A&M in January 1931. A group of cadets hit a small black and white dog on their way back from Navasota. They picked up the dog and brought her back to school so they could care for her. The next morning, when "Reveille" was blown by a bugler, she started barking. She was named after this morning wakeup call. The following football season she was named the official mascot when she led the band onto the field during their half-time performance. When Reveille I died on January 18, 1944, she was given a formal military funeral on the gridiron of Kyle Field. She was then buried at the north entrance to the field, as all Reveilles are, facing the scoreboard so that she can always watch the Aggies outscore their opponent. Before naming Reveille II, there were several other unofficial mascot, such as Tripod, Spot, and Ranger. It was not until a later Reveille that she was a full-blood Collie. The most current Reveille is Reveille VIII, and she was officially introduced on August 30, 2008.
Reveille is the most revered dog on campus. Company E-2 has the privilege of taking care of Reveille. If she is sleeping on a cadet's bed, that cadet must sleep on the floor. Cadets address Reveille as "Miss Rev, m'am." If she is in class and barks while the professor is teaching, the class is to be immediately dismissed. Reveille is a highly cherished mascot and receives only the best.
By far, one of Texas A&M's most honored traditions is Silver Taps. Silver Taps is held for a graduate or undergraduate student who passes away while enrolled at A&M. This final tribute is held the first Tuesday of the month following the students’ passing.
The first Silver Taps was held in 1898 and honored Lawrence Sullivan Ross, the former governor of Texas and president of A&M College. Silver Taps is currently held in Academic Plaza. On the day of Silver Taps, a small card with the deceased students name, class, major, and date of birth is placed at the base of the Academic Plaza flagpole, and the Silver Taps Memorial located behind the flagpole. Around 10:15 that night, the lights are extinguished and hymns chime from Albritton Tower. Students silently gather at the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross. At 10:30pm, the Ross Volunteer Firing Squad marches into the plaza and fires a twenty-one gun salute. Buglers then play a special rendition of Silver Taps, by Colonel Richard Dunn, three times from the dome of the Academic Building: once to the north, south, and west. It is not played to the east because it is said that the sun will never rise on that Aggies life again. After the buglers play, the students leave from Academic Plaza in complete silence. Silver Taps is a sacred tradition that Aggies treasure dearly.
It is one of the largest student-run, enviromental service projects in the nation. It was orginally developed by Scott Hantman to replenish some of the trees cut for the Bonfire. In the Spring of 1991, he joined Bonfire leaders and planted 400 trees.
In 1994, it became a SGA committee that works year-round coordinating the event. They are sponsored by Texas A&M, the National Tree Trust, and the Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Somerville.
Thousands of trees are planted each year by hundreds of student volunteers from A&M and the Bryan/College Station area. Trees are planted at local parks, schools, and other public land properties. All trees are donated by the National Tree Trust (between 500-10,000 per year).
Texas A&M was established as a military institution, and the Corps of Cadets has played an important part in its history and development. Although membership in the Corps became voluntary in 1965, Texas A&M historically has produced more military officers than any other institution in the nation, except for the service academies. More than 200 of its graduates have become generals or admirals. More Aggies were commissioned and fought in World War II than men from West Point or Annapolis.
The Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M is not just another ROTC unit that might be found at most campuses. The 2,200 men and women of the Corps form the largest uniformed body of students outside the U.S. military academies. Although cadets can earn commissions as military officers, membership in the Corps itself carries no military obligation. In fact, only about 30 percent of graduating cadets are commissioned, while the rest pursue civilian careers.
The Corps has more to offer than just military training. It is a tightly-knit group of students that offers camaraderie, as well as leadership training that is useful in all post-college careers.
Texas A&M has rich military history. More than 200 of its graduates have become generals or admirals. More Aggies were commissioned and fought in World War II than men from West Point or Annapolis.
One of the greatest moments in the life of every Aggie is the day that he or she receives an Aggie Ring. This tradition began with the Class of 1889. The original rings were very different from the one worn today because, at that time, several companies made different versions of the Aggie Ring. E. C. Jonas, Class of 1894, designed a ring that is similar to the ring worn today. There have been only slight changes to this design, with one exception; in 1964, the Legislature of the State of Texas changed the university's name from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas to Texas A&M University, and the name on the ring was changed accordingly.
The Aggie Ring is one of the most symbolic of our traditions. Everything seen on the ring represents a value that an Aggie should hold. On the top is a large shield, which symbolizes the desire to protect the reputation of the university. The 13 stripes on the shield represent the 13 original states of America. The five stars on the shield refer to the phases of development of any Aggie: mind or intellect; body; spiritual attainment; emotional poise; and integrity of character.
The eagle symbolizes agility and power, and the ability to reach great heights. The large star on the side of the ring symbolizes the Seal of Texas. The five-pointed star is encircled with a wreath of olive and laurel leaves symbolizing achievement and a desire for peace. The live oak leaves symbolize the strength to fight for our country and our state. The leaves are joined at the bottom by an encircling ribbon to show the necessity of uniting these two traits to accomplish one's ambition to serve.
An ancient cannon, a saber, and a rifle are on the other side of the ring and symbolize how citizens of Texas fought for their land and are determined to defend it. The saber stands for valor and confidence, while the rifle and cannon stand for a preparedness and defense. The crossed flags of the United States and Texas recognize an Aggie's dual allegiance to both nation and state.
Traditionally, students wear their ring with the class year facing them to signify the fact that their time at A&M is not yet complete. During Senior Week at the annual Ring Dance, the student's ring is turned around to face the world proudly, just as the Aggie graduate will be ready to face the world.
Aggies gathered together on June 26, 1883 to live over again their college days, the victories and defeats won and lost upon the drill field and classroom. Eventually the annual gathering evolved into a celebration of Texas Independence on San Jacinto Day – April 21st. Over time the tradition has changed, but its very essence has remained “If there is an A&M man in one hundred miles of you, you are expected to get together, eat a little, and live over the days you spent at the A&M College of Texas.” Muster is celebrated in more than four hundred places worldwide, with the largest ceremony on the Texas A&M campus in College Station. Aggie Muster as we know it today is credited to E. E. McQuillen ’20, who served as the Executive Secretary of The Association of Former Students. It is fitting that he was honored to serve as the first Campus Muster speaker. This year we are privileged to have Mrs. Brooke Leslie Rollins ’94 to serve as the 2007 Campus Muster speaker.
The committee was recognized as a student organization in 1950. Like the tradition itself, the committee has transcended the eras and events throughout its history and remained true to the timeless ideals of Muster. The Muster Committee is responsible for organizing and planning every aspect of the tradition, from speaker to barbeque, awareness to the Roll Call – this committee continues the livelihood of this great tradition year after year. The committee falls under the discretion of the Student Government Association. The 2007 Muster Committee is composed of 22 committee members, seven sub-chairs, and one chair. Their tasks vary among the five subcommittees: Awareness, Programs, Roll Call and Families, Speaker Selection, and Special Operations.
Muster is a time to look to the past, present, and future…not only to grieve but to reflect and to celebrate the lives that connect us to one another. A gesture so simple in nature yet so lasting in spirit, Muster is the lasting impression every Aggie leaves with us; it reminds us of the greatness that lies within these walls, of the loyalty we possess, of the connection that binds us, and of the idea that every Aggie has a place of importance – whether they are present in flesh or spirit.
The Big Event is the largest, one-day, student-run service project in the nation where students of Texas A&M University come together to say ‘thank you’ to the residents of Bryan and College Station. For the past 25 years Aggie students have participated in this annual event to show their appreciation to the surrounding community by completing service projects such as yard work, window washing, and interior/exterior painting. Although The Big Event has become the largest one-day, student-run service project in the nation, our message still remains the same – simply “thank you.”
Every year nine hundred counselors willingly give up time and effort in order to welcome Texas A&M’s greatest and most important tradition: The Freshmen Class. Through a 4-day orientation program held in Palestine, TX, freshmen are given the opportunity to learn Aggie Traditions, ease their way into college life, develop leadership skills and create bonds that will last a lifetime.
It has been said that when an Aggie graduates, the most important thing he/she walks away with is not the diploma or Aggie Ring, but the connection to the Aggie Family. Transfer Camp, or T-Camp, is a 3 day, 2 night, extended orientation program that introduces transfer students to the many opportunities that exist at Texas A&M and the long-standing traditions that embody the true meaning of being an Aggie. The idea for T-Camp came from transfer students themselves; they wanted an extended orientation experience similar to Fish Camp, but specifically for transfer students. T-Camp became “A Transfer’s First Tradition” in 1987. Today, this student-run organization is composed of over 100 current students, and welcomes around 500 new Aggies into the Aggie Family each year.