Allen B. West

What Aggieland teaches Americans about America

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Howdy from Bryan-College Station, Texas –Aggieland — the home of Texas A&M University, and there is no way you could miss that evident fact when you visit here.

Last night I spoke at the Brazos County GOP annual dinner and I could not have been more honored. Y’all know I’m a big SEC football kinda fella and Texas A&M is now a member of that famed conference. Well, yesterday afternoon I had the distinct pleasure of touring the campus and learning of the great traditions of this famed institute of higher learning, leadership, and service to our nation.

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard of or seen the renowned Texas A&M Corps of Cadets. Well, yesterday I walked the “Quad” as I went under the historic arches that welcome you to the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets area, which is being wonderfully renovated. I had a personal tour of the Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor where I saw the seven Aggie Medal of Honor recipients and learned of the impeccable history of the Corps, strength of about 3000.

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I had the chance to gaze upon the rings of Aggie Cadets that had been donated back to the school to be placed on display. But greatest of all, I got an ol’ bear hug from the Commandant of Cadets, Brigadier General Joe Ramirez, with whom I served on active duty in the US Army. BG Ramirez embodies the spirit of the A&M Aggie Cadet, the commitment to service, sacrifice, and country.

In a few hours I had the experience of a lifetime, touching the statue of the original 12th Man — sorry Seattle Seahawks — E. King Gill, the Aggie student who came down out of the football stands and “geared up” in an injured player’s uniform to make sure the Aggies didn’t have to forfeit a game. I learned of the tradition of President Lawrence Sullivan Ross, and the Ross Volunteers, as well as the “penny for your thoughts” statement that lives to today as students still leave pennies at the base of his statue.

And sadly, I was told of the tradition of “Silver Taps” a special commemorative service that honors a fallen Aggie, and that three buglers play a special version of taps from three cardinal directions, not from the east for the sun shall never again rise upon the fallen.

So last night as I spoke, I recounted all the lessons and traditions I had the honor of learning that special afternoon, but I challenged the audience to uphold the traditions and legacy of America, just as they do those here in Aggieland. It was a challenge for them to be “Guardians of the Republic” as they are guardians of Texas A&M.

There is a special pride and honor in wearing the maroon and white, just the same as there should be wearing the red, white, and blue. The adults hear tell the stories of great Aggie fame and allure and pass on their traditions to subsequent generations. Why don’t we do the same with our American traditions? After all, that’s how we pass on a legacy and preserve this Republic. It’s in the DNA of the students here — why shouldn’t the same be in the DNA of all Americans?

The tradition of the 12th Man here at Aggie football games is that they stand during all four quarters — and I would suppose during overtime as well — so are we willing to stand for America as well? Do we all know what it means to stand for America?

We should talk of our Declaration of Independence, Federalist Papers, and US Constitution with the same fervor and energy as they speak of the history of the Texas A&M Aggies. One gets a very special feeling as you walk this campus — it should be no different when you traverse our hallowed land. And it seems to me that regardless of where a Texas A&M student hails, once they hit this campus they assimilate to the ways, traditions, and values of Aggieland — so why isn’t it the same for our America?

As Americans we hold dear our individual freedoms and rights. We must seek to restore that sense of individuals’ sovereignty that enables economic growth through their investment, innovation, and ingenuity. I know, some may be tired of my saying this, but that is how traditions and legacies are built — through repetitive articulation of fundamental principles and values. That’s how they do it in Aggieland. That’s how we should do it in America.

This morning I woke at 5:30am for an early morning run from the Hilton Hotel on University Ave up to the campus. I just wanted to take it all in during the peace and stillness of the early morning. I wanted to reflect upon the past day, what I learned, and what I wanted to take away.

I will never forget being here in Aggieland and hope to return to see a football game and visit with the famed Corps of Cadets, our future American leaders, following in the footsteps, traditions, of those Aggies who have gone before them — such as the 16th President of Texas A&M, Major General James Earl Rudder who Commanded in the 2d Ranger Battalion which climbed the cliffs of Point du Hoc Normandy on D-Day, 70 years ago next month.

One thing I do take umbrage with these proud Aggies about, is that they are building up Kyle Field to become the biggest football stadium in the SEC — surpassing my beloved Neyland Stadium on the banks of the Tennessee River at my alma mater the University of Tennessee. At Tennessee we are the Volunteers, because our tradition is one of student volunteer service to this nation — and it was Tennessee Vols who came to Texas to enable their fight for liberty and freedom.

That is America.

In closing, they have a saying down here in Aggieland and last night I told the audience to go find liberal progressive socialists and — “Gig ’em Aggies”!

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