The Story of the Stuff: Issues in Temporary Memorial Preservation

Texas A&M & the Bonfire Memorabilia Collection

On November 18, 1999, the Aggie Bonfire, a 59-foot high stack of logs constructed ahead of an rivalry football game collapsed killing 12 students and injuring 27 others. Within a few hours, thousands of people gathered on the Texas A&M campus both to grieve and to leave objects at the growing "spontaneous shrine" along the security fence surrounding the accident site.

At this point in history, temporary memorials--at least on the scale of the one at Texas A&M--were a relatively new phenomenon, preceded only by the flowers left for Princess Diana in the wake of her death, items left at the Oklahoma City Bombing fence, and the acres of memorial objects left at Columbine High School after the school shooting earlier that decade.

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