Photo by Andrew Kilzer, TexAgs

Sons of Aggieland: What the ring really represents

By Olin Buchanan

More from Olin
June 28, 2013
12860

I don’t wear the ring.

In fact, I don’t even like jewelry.

No gold chains hang from my neck. No diamond studs ever have — or ever will — adorn my ear lobes. I don’t even wear a wristwatch.

The plain, white-gold wedding band that I vowed eight years ago to wear forever is my only jewelry.

But had I attended Texas A&M University, I proudly would have worn the A&M class ring. Not because it represents proof of an education. Not because it would have given a reason — even an obligation — to chug a pitcher of cold beer at The Chicken. And not because the ring’s unique design would make me immediately identifiable to Aggies everywhere.

My friends were approached by complete strangers who recognized the ring. It was the ultimate ice-breaker that brought Aggies together. But that’s not why I’d wear it. I admire the ring, but not nearly as much as I’ve grown to admire what Texas A&M strives to represent. {"Module":"quote","Alignment":"left","Quote":"My friends were approached by complete strangers who recognized the ring. It was the ultimate ice-breaker that brought Aggies together. But that’s not why I’d wear it. I admire the ring, but not nearly as much as I’ve grown to admire what Texas A&M strives to represent.","Author":""}
I’ve visited San Diego, New York City, Miami, Cancun, Cozumel, Las Vegas and Nashville with friends who were Aggies. 

At all those places, as well as others, my friends were approached by complete strangers who recognized the ring. It was the ultimate ice-breaker that brought Aggies together.

But that’s not why I’d wear it. 

I admire the ring, but not nearly as much as I’ve grown to admire what Texas A&M strives to represent.

Full disclosure here: I grew up a Texas Longhorns fan and still like to see them win. have no problem supporting both Texas A&M and Texas (or all Texas teams) even though some might say that’s just unnatural. A man cannot serve two masters, right?

But my father — TexAgs posters would call him a “T-shirt” fan — loved Darrell Royal, Steve Worster, Roosevelt Leaks and Earl Campbell. So, I did, too.

We never hated the Aggies, though.

Sure, I’d laugh at an Aggie joke here and there, but I never enjoyed an A&M football loss. Well, not until 1979.

That was my senior football season at White Oak High School. We had a high-strung, excitable assistant coach that was such an enthusiastic Aggie fan he’d make Billy Pickard look like a two-percenter.

This coach, who was actually quite popular among the players, was almost inconsolable and highly irritable following any of Texas A&M’s five losses that year. So, as typical pain-in-the-neck teenagers, we took every opportunity to taunt him unmercifully on Monday if the Aggies had lost on Saturday.

The extra wind sprints were well worth the inevitable meltdown. Such antics were just the rites of youth.

Then, you grow. You mature. You age. Ideals change. Often, the liberal points of view one might have had give way to more conservative philosophies.

Once, my first thoughts of Aggies were from funny jokes I'd heard. Now, I think of Rodney Thomas feeding quarters into a malfunctioned vending machine that was dispensing candy free of charge. {"Module":"quote","Alignment":"right","Quote":"Once, my first thoughts of Aggies were from funny jokes I\u0027d heard. Now, I think of Rodney Thomas feeding quarters into a malfunctioned vending machine that was dispensing candy free of charge.","Author":""}
Things you once took for granted become dearer. You embrace tradition. You admire sacrifice. Integrity, honesty, character and service are no longer just words, but characteristics and traits you hope to attain and seek out in others.

I’ve found that in abundance since I’ve relocated here. New friends reached out to offer help in many ways. Strangers stopped to say hello, talk football and even asked about my family. My son has been welcomed. My wife has been, too.

I once joked on the radio that I’m never invited to parties. An hour later I received an invitation.

Once, my first thoughts of Aggies were from funny jokes I'd heard. Now, I think of Rodney Thomas feeding quarters into a malfunctioning vending machine that was dispensing candy free of charge.

Now, I think of the three decks of Kyle Field separated into splashes of red, white and blue in an awesome display of patriotism on Sept. 22, 2001 in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Other college football programs across the country waved flags, which was commendable. But in less than two weeks, Aggies coordinated a movement to transform their stadium into a giant flag. Who else could do that? Who else would even try?

Now, when I think of Aggies I think of them giving and volunteering to help after tragedies in West, Boston and Moore, Okla.

Now, when I think of Aggies I think of them raising thousands of dollars for the Mercy Project, which benefits enslaved children in Ghana.

Now, when I think of Aggies I think of former A&M golfer Conrad Shindler winning a professional tournament and donating his entire check to the Oklahoma tornado relief effort.

Now, I think of Joseph Villavisencio, who died in a car crash on the same day he had helped deliver Christmas gifts to needy families at a local shelter.

Andrew Kilzer, TexAgs After a short amount of time it becomes clear that the meaning of being an Aggie goes far beyond what a normal university represents. {"Module":"photo","Alignment":"right","Size":"large","Caption":"After a short amount of time it becomes clear that the meaning of being an Aggie goes far beyond what a normal university represents. ","MediaItemID":21670}
Now, I think of 650 maroon-clad Aggies linked arm-in-arm forming a wall around a College Station church to prevent Westboro Baptist Church members from disrupting the funeral of Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale, an Aggie who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, I think of a woman among those 650 explaining why they were there by saying: “He is a son of Aggieland. There are no strangers on this road.”

These are among the reasons I wish I could wear the ring. I never will, but someday my son might. I'd hope he'd demonstrate the integrity,  the honor and the character that ring represents.

That would be good enough for me. It would make his grandpa proud, too.
Tags: Texas A&M
Discussion from...

Sons of Aggieland: What the ring really represents

Excellent write-up. Everywhere you go Ags stick together.
Thanks for sharing this.
Nice write up from Olin, but we Aggies have known all along what he is just now finding out.
Great write up - inspirational!
"Now, I think of a woman among those 650 explaining why they were there by saying: “He is a son of Aggieland. There are no strangers on this road.”

Here.
Very good
quote:
These are among the reasons I wish I could wear the ring. I never will...

Never too late to go back to school...
loved it
Absolutely loved it!
Well said.
Your thoughts were greatly appreciated.
Awesome article!
I am a Mom from NY that has a senior Aggie this year.
Let me tell you this article made me cry. They were tears of joy, joy that my son is in the the most perfect place in the country. Thank you A & M for being the most wonderful institution around. You might not have ivy attached to your name but they don't hold a candle to your sense of duty, honor, and country. We had lost hope for this fine nation, until we discovered the state of Texas and the amazing people at TAMU. Thank you with all my heart !

Citygirl from NY
quote:
I am a Mom from NY that has a senior Aggie this year.
Let me tell you this article made me cry. They were tears of joy, joy that my son is in the the most perfect place in the country. Thank you A & M for being the most wonderful institution around. You might not have ivy attached to your name but they don't hold a candle to your sense of duty, honor, and country. We had lost hope for this fine nation, until we discovered the state of Texas and the amazing people at TAMU. Thank you with all my heart !

Citygirl from NY
Great read.
Good bull.
quote:
Good bull.


I'll go along with that.


________________________________________________
Others merely adopted the zoo; I was born in it, molded by it.
http://youtu.be/wHKbwcKehgM
I know exactly how he feels. I (occasionally) attended classes at A&M for 3 years. While living near Odessa, I completed my degree at UTPB. I am an Aggie. I do not want a ring that has "The University of Texas" on it. I'll never have that Aggie ring, but I wish that I'd understood, 40 years ago, what it means.
Citygirl !
quote:
I am a Mom from NY that has a senior Aggie this year.
Let me tell you this article made me cry. They were tears of joy, joy that my son is in the the most perfect place in the country. Thank you A & M for being the most wonderful institution around. You might not have ivy attached to your name but they don't hold a candle to your sense of duty, honor, and country. We had lost hope for this fine nation, until we discovered the state of Texas and the amazing people at TAMU. Thank you with all my heart !

Citygirl from NY


Hell of a first post!
Page 1 of 2