A replica of the Donald Coward letter
Campus Life

Spirit Plaza Dedicated To Honor Cherished School Traditions

Coordinated by the Class of ’69, the project aims to bind Aggie generations together and for students to remember what being an Aggie is all about.
By Keith Randall, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications April 23, 2019

Calling it a lasting legacy to future generations of Aggies, Texas A&M University officials and former students formally dedicated the Spirit Plaza Tuesday and said the new campus landmark will have a special meaning for Aggies everywhere.

Spirit Plaza highlights the solemn Texas A&M traditions of Muster and Silver Taps – ceremonies which honor Aggies who have died recently or within the past year – and also focuses on the Aggie Honor Code and the school’s Core Values of respect, excellence, loyalty, leadership, integrity and selfless service to others.

The $560,000 project is a gift from the Class of 1969 to celebrate its 50th anniversary, and the Classes of 1972, 1991, 1995 and 2019 are also involved in the Spirit Plaza concept.

“Texas A&M is indeed a light to the world,” said Texas A&M President Michael K. Young. “Texas A&M is one of the world’s great universities, but what sets us apart are the values we embed in our students as they get their education. This Spirit Plaza will be a constant reminder of what it is to be an Aggie. We are grateful for this wonderful gift and know that since it is a constant reminder, it will be remembered by all Aggies in perpetuity.”

The project, organizers said, will be a place where the school’s most sacred traditions will be remembered and that it will bind Aggies together from generation to generation.

Added Bill Howell, representing the Class of ’69, “We wanted this to be a place where people can go and reflect and learn about the essence of being an Aggie. This project was first talked about at our 40th reunion 10 years ago. We wanted a place on campus where we could leave a legacy to Texas A&M and to the student body here. It was important that we place in the heart of campus so that all students will walk by it.

“This entire project is a collective work of many people and groups,” Howell said.  “The Spirit Plaza represents what Texas A&M is all about.”

Bill Youngkin, also representing the Class of ’69 and one of the project’s organizers, said a unique aspect of Spirit Plaza is its location near Academic Plaza, Military Walk and the statue of Sul Ross (known as “Sully”).

“This gift represents all Aggies of all ages,” Youngkin said.

“It reflects our great traditions of Muster and Silver Taps and our Core Values which anchor us all. An Aggie’s life begins with ‘Howdy’ and ends with ‘Here.’”

Texas A&M Regent Bill Mahomes, noting that the project was years in the making, said, “When we graduated in 1969, we could not have imagined this moment 50 years ago – as classmates, cadets and for me today, as a regent.

“We represent students who graduated with us in 1969, some of whom are no longer with us on this earth but who are always with us in the Aggie spirit. This Spirit Plaza represents all students and is a commitment to all Aggies.”

Bill Maddox, class agent of the Class of ’69, read excerpts of a letter written by Texas A&M freshman Donald Coward in October of 1968 to his parents during the ceremony.

Coward wrote the letter after witnessing his first Silver Taps ceremony and was deeply moved by the proceedings, saying he had “experienced what Texas A&M is all about.”

Three weeks after he wrote the letter, Coward and two of his fellow Aggies, John Groves and George Reynolds, were all killed in a car accident near Denton, Texas. Their names were subsequently read at Silver Taps and Muster ceremonies.

Student Body President Amy Sharp accepted the Spirit Plaza on behalf of Aggies everywhere, and noted that “we are grateful for this amazing gift. Aggies will honor and cherish this gift forever.”

Media contact: Lesley Henton, 979-845-5591, lshenton@tamu.edu

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