Hundreds of Aggies gathered in Kyle Field Plaza Thursday morning for a funeral ceremony for Reveille VIII, Texas A&M University’s former mascot who served from 2008 to 2015.
Among those paying final respects were the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets, Texas A&M University and System administrators, student and staff caretakers from Texas A&M’s Stevenson Companion Animal Life-Care Center and six former Reveille VIII handlers.
Texas A&M President Michael K. Young thanked Reveille VIII, who passed away June 25 at age 12, for her years of service to the university.
“As important as Reveille is to our sports tradition, she is much more than that,” Young said. “She is representative of our Aggie spirit, she is a symbol of our unity, our loyalty, our support, our commitment and our engagement. The tradition is a wonderful part of what makes Texas A&M so special, and she represented that extraordinarily well.”
Each year, the acting Reveille mascot is assigned a handler or “mascot corporal” from Company E-2, the group of students within the Corps of Cadets who take on the responsibility for each Reveille’s security and wellbeing. Their responsibilities take on a personal role when Reveille boards in the same room as the handlers in the Corps dorms, walks with them to classes and goes with them to their homes over the summer.
Texas A&M Vice President for Student Affairs Daniel J. Pugh underscored the weight and value of this responsibility to the mascot program in his remarks, where he reminisced about the time Reveille VIII and Company E-2 spent time in the on-campus Vice President’s residence.
“They pour their hearts and souls into the mascot to make sure she is the representative that we have come to know and love, and that’s an important feature that’s there,” Pugh said. “It really goes back to the handlers. The handlers make all the difference in the mascot program here, and it doesn’t happen in a lot of places. We’re very fortunate to have the unity, the cadets, the mascot handlers and the families who stand behind them.”
Few students understand the important role of mascot corporal better than Ryan Kreider, Reveille VIII’s final handler who famously stepped in front of an oncoming SMU football player to shield her from a potential hit.
Kreider shared that 10 years ago to the day, he and Reveille VIII made their first acquaintance with Texas A&M: Reveille VIII when she made her first appearance as mascot against Arkansas State, and Kreider, who attended his first Texas A&M game and decided then that he wanted to be an Aggie. Reveille VIII’s and Kreider’s stories came full circle Thursday morning. “It wasn’t until years later that I realized we share this day together,” he said.
“Her impact on my life was much more than a block on the sideline,” Kreider said. “Serving as her handler and visiting her over the years at the Stevenson Center has truly deepened my love for Texas A&M and the traditions that we hold so dear. Reveille was beautiful, intelligent and loving. In my mind she was one of the best mascots this university ever saw.”
Former handler John Busch, class of 2011, served as mascot corporal in 2008 when Texas A&M was in a transition from Reveille VII to Reveille VIII. He met Reveille VIII before she took on the moniker and still belonged to a Topeka, Kansas, couple. He said he knew when he first met Reveille VIII that she had a demeanor that could handle the demanding atmospheres of Aggie football game days, numerous events, photo opportunities and walking to class. He said her time at Texas A&M was “a privilege for all Ags.”
“Reveille, to me, embodies a real tangible tradition, something that every Aggie at Texas A&M can be a part of,” Busch said. “That’s because students every day get to see their mascot walk around on campus. Some get to go to class with Reveille and some get to fall asleep in class with Reveille as well. While I had the opportunity to see Reveille grow into an outstanding mascot, I got to see her bring the traditions to life. Seeing someone’s eyes light up when she patiently waited for a pet or a picture with an Aggie or a fan, was a true testament to her living up to the calling.”
When Reveille VIII retired from her mascot duties in 2015 and a new mascot Reveille IX assumed them, the Stevenson Center took on responsibilities of caring for her. The center, which exists within the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences as a place for pet owners to send their animals when the owners pass away or are no longer able to care for them, took in Reveille VIII to care for her without an endowment. Dr. Sonny Presnal, director of the Stevenson Center, said doing so “has been an honor.”
Stevenson Center Associate Director Ellie Greenbaum gave rare insights into the retired Reveille in her remarks. Whether Reveille VIII was befriending a cat, looking after a Chihuahua recuperating after a surgery, or taking on a motherly role for all animals, students and staff at the center, Greenbaum said it was a privilege to look after her.
“These amazing people were all devoted to Rev, as they are to all of our residents, and assured that all of her days were comfortable and fulfilling,” Greenbaum said. “They made sure that every day Reveille was brushed and combed out to perfection so she always looked as beautiful as when she was a celebrity on campus.”
Reveille VIII was be buried alongside the previous seven Reveille mascots in Kyle Field Plaza in a special burial plot on the north side of the stadium, which includes a scoreboard that faces each headstone.
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