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School dedicates bonfire memorial

By Associated Press
Published November 19, 2004

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - A granite and bronze memorial was dedicated Thursday in the grassy field at Texas A&M University where a bonfire collapse five years ago killed 12 people.

"Their souls and bodies are not here, but the spirit they all shared is very much here," said Jerry Ebanks, whose son Michael died in the accident. "This will be a place for solace, for meditation and for remembering."

About 50,000 people gathered for the memorial dedication on the anniversary of the tragedy.

The 59-foot-high bonfire, a revered A&M tradition before the annual football matchup against the rival University of Texas, consisted of a wedding cake-like stack of more than 5,000 logs. The logs collapsed in the early morning hours of Nov. 18, 1999, as the stack was being assembled.

An investigation by a university commission blamed flawed construction techniques and inadequate supervision of the students assembling the stack.

The $5-million memorial includes a circle of 12 rectangular arches, one for each of the dead. They are connected by 27 large stones, representing the injured.

The 16-foot arches are positioned so that each faces the hometown of a victim. Within the granite arches are 12-foot bronze portals with a sculptured portrait and writings from or about each victim.

A partial settlement of a bonfire lawsuit was announced Thursday between the families of seven victims and 25 student leaders who oversaw construction of the logs.

[Last modified November 19, 2004, 00:04:07]


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