Spirit of Aggieland heads to NYC

Since the events on Sept. 11, our nation has seen an unprecedented level of patriotism displayed in thousands of ways. From grandiose 100-foot flags to simple cards of support by elementary students, our nation’s true colors are shining through. Here in Brady, thousands of miles from where the attacks occurred, flags are flown daily, red, white and blue have become people’s favorite colors and one thing I have noticed on both a local and national level’prayer seems to be more evident in people’s lives. We might be on to something there. For those of you who don’t know already, I am a die hard Aggie. Being a former student of the first rate university in College Station, I have, and always will have, a high opinion of Texas Aggies. I attend football games whenever possible and walk with pride across the campus knowing the character and poise Texas A&M exudes. There is an old saying on campus down there that being an Aggie cannot be explained. You can’t put it in a bottle, you can’t tell someone else what it feels like. You only find out when you become one. I know, I know. This is just another column bragging about the Aggies. Not really. For most of you non-Ags, you might not care to hear about the 12th Man, Ol’ Sarge and Reveille. You won’t. This time, it’s not about maroon and white’it’s about red, white and blue. September 22 was a regularly scheduled football game between the Aggies and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. To make a long story short, in the wake of the terrorist attacks, a group of five students currently enrolled at A&M set out on a crusade to put forth a collective sign of support by making the crowd red, white and blue’literally. In a matter of 10 days, these students came up with and executed an idea that, besides turning a college stadium into a symbol of patriotism, helped raise over $150,000 for the relief funds set up in the wake of the disasters in New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. They did it all by selling T-shirts for $5 that when worn in a collective group in the stadium, turned the third deck red, the second deck white and the first deck blue. Game day came and from the photo I have on my desktop that was sent via email, people not wearing the corresponding colors were few in number. Covering 85 percent of the crowd in colors corresponding to their seat is quite a task. ESPN began a 13-part television series last week that is solely about life in Aggieland and the part football plays in it. In the debut show, virtually the entire time was spent telling the story of how the five students took this idea and made it a reality. Kyle Field holds a capacity crowd of some 82,000. The group of students sold an estimated 70,000 shirts. Even fans of the visiting Oklahoma State team participated in the event. In a matter of 10 days, five students somehow managed to have enough shirts printed and distributed to cover the stadium. They worked themselves to the bone; they depleted local resources to the point at which they needed help from businesses in Dallas and Houston. Amazingly, everything pulled together. When called, strangers jumped on the bandwagon and did their part to further the cause. I have a photograph on my desktop that was taken from somewhere close to the press box during the halftime show. I have looked specifically at the second deck on the student’s side and for the life of me, I cannot find a single person not wearing the white shirts bearing the statement: “In Memory of 9-11-01 Standing for America Aggieland, USA September 22, 2001” The third deck was red and almost as complete. The first deck was noticeably different due to the Corps of Cadets wearing their tan uniforms. Other than that, red, white and blue were the colors of the day. Organizing and actually pulling off this feat was something in and of itself. But wearing the shirts to the game was only the beginning. I get daily emails from an Aggie website that posts significant events related to A&M. In one I received last week, the story of the ‘Red, White and Blue Out’ continues. Liz Allen came up to me at the Brady bonfire and asked if I had read the email. I hadn’t at the time, but it was first on the list to do early the next morning. It seems as if one of the five originators of the “Red, White and Blue Out” is from Baytown. Well, the Baytown A&M Club took it upon themselves and came up with the idea of sending the group of students to New York to deliver the proceeds to the appropriate parties. According to the email, when the group from Baytown called for airline ticket prices, Continental heard what the group was doing and comped the tickets for all five students. Free, no charge. Then, when they called New York to get a hotel room, the same thing happened’stay at the Hilton for free. The email went on to say that members of the New York Police Department would be meeting them at the airport and would usher them around the city. I haven’t heard when the young Aggies will make their trip to New York, but I know when they go, they will represent not only my alma mater, but they will represent the entire state of Texas. It’s amazing to see what can be done with a concerted effort by a small group of complete strangers. Just think what could happen if the entire world took the same approach.’JS

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