Wednesday, November 18, 2009

10 Years Ago Today

Ten years ago this morning, I woke up in a small house that I was renting over in the Timbergrove Manor part of town. I was a Baby Prosecutor of three months, assigned to the Justice of the Peace Division and I was due in Judge Patronella's court Downtown that morning. I got up, showered and got dressed with Good Morning America on the television set. I wasn't paying much attention to it until I saw that it was covering the Aggie Bonfire.

I'm from Bryan, Texas and I grew up in a house about a mile and a half from the polo fields at Texas A&M. I graduated from there in 1995. So, when I saw that a national TV show was covering my hometown, my initial reaction was "oh, cool". I figured they were just doing a profile on the traditions of college football and they were covering the A&M tradition.

It took me about ten seconds to realize that what they were covering was probably the worst tragedy that ever hit the community where I grew up. I stopped everything and sat down and watched the coverage in stunned silence.

Seeing something like that happen in the small town you grew up and have great affection for was heartbreaking. It was 2 years prior to the attacks of 9/11, and at the time, it seemed like the worst thing I had ever seen in my life.

I had to go to work, though. I didn't even have a cell phone back then, so during every break during Judge Patronella's docket, I would call home and get an update on what was happening. Every time I called, the death toll would have risen and it felt like a kick in the stomach.

When I had attended A&M, I was by all accounts what the Aggies call a "Two Percenter". I guess growing up in Bryan/College Station had caused some of the novelty of the Traditions there to lose their effect on me. I didn't go Midnight Yell. I didn't even go Bonfire, usually. I liked going to the football games, but for the most part, there was very a much a disconnect between me and my college experience.

But on that day I felt a deep connection through deep sadness.

In the days that would follow, I would go home to Bryan/College Station for Thanksgiving. I saw the logs of the fallen bonfire and I went to the candlelight vigil. I remember standing there when the crowd parted and then-Governor George W. Bush and his father walked out. He shook my hand and said "It's a sad day."

I heard my voice cracking as I said "Yes sir, it is."

I remember the A&M/U.T. game the next day. I've never been to a more emotional sporting event. The Longhorn players and their Student Body exhibited so much sympathy and class to the Aggies in the wake of the tragedy that I don't think the rivalry ever really recovered. It was just too difficult to get fired up with hatred towards a group of people that had been so kind during the darkest days.

I remember the Aggies won the game that day. I remember Ja'Mar Toombs scoring a touchdown and I remember the giant fullback weeping in the end zone.

I cried too.

So much has changed in my life and in the world over the past ten years. In some ways it is incomprehensible to think about how much is different from way back then. But even now, ten years later, it seems no less heartbreaking as it did right about this time that morning.

I don't know why exactly I felt the need to write this post, other than to tell that little old town where I grew up, and that big old university that I once attended that I'm thinking about them today.


Anonymous said...

God Bless Texas A&M and the families of the students that lost their lives on that day.


Anonymous said...

We Horns mourned the loss as well, a close childhood friend of mine (who later perished, along with 6 other men he led, outside of Fallujah by an IED)was a senior in the corp at this time and he was devastated by this event. I also remember that the tickets to that game coincidentally had a picture of the bonfire on the front. Thanks for the post.

BLACK INK said...

The Eyes of Texas are Upon A&M today as well.
I may want TEXAS to kick A&M's butt on the grid iron every Thanksgiving but that does not detract from the class and dignity of the Texas A&M student body and alumni.
My heart goes out to the Aggie family on this sad reminder.
May God bless all that suffer...

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written piece Murray.

Not Clint

Michael said...

One of the memorable moments of that month was the A&M Corps singing "Spirit of Aggieland" under the UT Tower. Wow, time moves quickly now.

Aggie Pct Chair said...


We are proud of what you do, and your strong republican voice carries all the way up to College Station. Thanks for honoring your fellow Aggies and those that passed on such a terrible day.

Your Aggie Pct Chair

Duke said...

Small towns make strong men.

Nice post Murray.

Anonymous said...

Gig 'em.

Anonymous said...

Rapidly losing interest in this blog...

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 4:39 p.m.,
Please feel free to find another blog to read then, or better yet, start your own.

Really just acting like a classless schmuck on this one is childish.

Anonymous said...

Very interested in this blog. Keep up the good work. Although this post was not directly about Life at the HCCJC, it still is a great post and I have the greatest respect for someone like Murray. Thanks for the blog.

Anonymous said...

You really take criticism well. So, if I had said, wow, what a great blog. Best ever. That makes me smart?

Or does a blog exist only to gratify your every thought? That used to be called a diary, and it was private.

But, when you make it public, seems to me you need to take criticism with praise.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Anon 3:10 p.m.,
Your earlier post was classless due to where you chose to comment.
I can take criticism quite well, thanks. I do it on a daily basis.
As far as diaries versus blogs, I suppose you're right, but once again, I reiterate that nobody is forcing you to read this.
I could devote this blog to my cat if I wanted to (and if I had a cat). If you feel you can do better, then please feel free to do so.

David said...

Dear Stephen King:

I once loved reading your books. However, since Four Past Midnight, I've been bored. Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to read your books. I'm just rapidly losing interest. Just thought you should know.

Anon. 4:39

Anonymous said...

David -

No one has any interest in you, so shut the fuck up.

Anonymous said...

This is one sensitive bunch of lawyers.

David said...

Good one. I got enough interest from you to get you to respond to my wit.

Good day to you sir.

I said good day!

(That's from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Think Gene Wilder's voice when you read it, and it's actually pretty funny.)

Judge Chow DEM said...

When Chow was elected, way back when, was she elected as a republican or a democrat? Surely the Judge wouldn't have a closet democrat on her staff. If true, has Patricia been truthful to her electorate?

Anonymous said...

Would you like a cat? I can set you up with a nice, brand new one, complete with shots and spayed.

Anonymous said...

Hanna Chow is was a democrat but first and foremose has always been a politician. For those of you who want to be critical of Judge Chow, throw your hat in the political ring. It is cut throat and harsh. Judge Chow withstood the test of time and her persistence has paid off. She deserves the position she has and we are proud of her.

Anonymous said...

I think Murray devoted this particular entry in his blog to a tragedy that occurred 10 years ago at Texas A&M. Instead of there being a thoughtful discussion of that issue, or of any issue with any substance, the comments here turned into name-calsling quite quickly. Murray, like anyone, is free to express his opinion. The fact that you don't like what he says, but continue to post comments here reveals how pathetic of an existence you must live. If I don't like a television show, I don't turn on the show to watch it and yell at it all night long. That's stupid!! Anyways, with that being said, Beat the Hell out of tu.