Differing ideas of game day hospitality
Disrespecting Texas A&M's tradition
I made the long trip to South Bend this weekend for the Texas A&M vs. Notre Dame game. Like Notre Dame, Texas A&M is a tradition-rich school and Aggie fans have a sincere appreciation for college traditions. Everyone I talked with enjoyed the opportunity to tour your lovely campus and we were looking forward to learning more about Notre Dame traditions. I was extremely disappointed, however, to learn that rude and disrespectful treatment of opponents' fans and visitors was one of the less-publicized but obviously most popular traditions at Notre Dame.
The A&M College of Texas was an all-male military institution until the mid-60s and it remains the largest source of officers for the United States military outside of the service academies. As students, we were constantly reminded of this tradition of service by our many campus landmarks commemorating those who had fallen. For example, there are 55 flags that encircle Kyle Field in honor of the 55 Aggies who died in World War I. Our Student Center is a living memorial to the Aggie war dead and everyone removes their hats upon entering the building. Nearby is a statue of General James Earl Rudder, who led the Rangers up Point du Hoc on D-Day, securing the right flank of Omaha Beach. These brave men fought to wipe the scourge of fascism and Hitler's forces of evil off the European continent and in so doing, saved the free world. So when the Aggie Band, in their WWI-era uniforms, formed in your endzone, I cannot explain the rage and disgust we felt at hearing the shouts of "Achtung" and "Sieg Heil" from the Notre Dame fans around us.
You may laugh at our yells, think our songs are funny and talk all the smack you want about our football team, but to mock the Corps of Cadets with Nazi catcalls was simply inexcusable and, frankly, ignorant. Thousands of Aggie men and women who wore that uniform fought and hundreds died so that we can be free and the disrespect and ingratitude your fans showed their memory was disgraceful. Shouting those hateful epithets at our band was a spit in the face to men like General Rudder, whose boys died in Normandy and men like General George Moore, class of '08, whose men died at Bataan. Do you make those same remarks when you play Army or Navy?
I hope the fans that made these remarks (and the dozens around who laughed and encouraged) do not represent the majority of those who have attended the University of Notre Dame. Sadly, for many of us who visited your campus, they are the ones who will be remembered. Aggie fans are well-known for their hospitality, and we look forward to hosting you next year in College Station. Perhaps then you will gain a greater appreciation why General George Patton once said, "Give me an army of West Point graduates, and I'll win a battle. Give me a handful of Texas Aggies, and I'll win a war."
Texas A&M University
Class of '95
San Rafael, California
September 3, 2000
All Viewpoint Stories for Tuesday, September 5, 2000