Keepers of the Spirit

Cadets play unique role in traditions, observe many specific to the Corps

Jane Turchi @JaneTurchi

Final Review is a cadet’s passage into the next year of the Corps. It symbolizes the transition to the coming year’s Corps leadership.   Photo by Cassie Stricker.

Final Review is a cadet’s passage into the next year of the Corps. It symbolizes the transition to the coming year’s Corps leadership. Photo by Cassie Stricker.

The Corps of Cadets is famously known for keeping tradition at Texas A&M. While many of the traditions they participate in are observed by all students, there are some which are unique to cadets. From their special role in Silver Taps, to receiving their Corps Brass, Corps members involvement in tradition runs deep.

Corps Brass Culmination

The Corps holds the Corps Brass culmination ceremony at the end of November. After three hours of physical training, freshmen cadets receive the Corps Brass that they will wear for the remainder of their time in the Corps.

Philosophy sophomore and member of C-2 Mason Loss said the event is meaningful to cadets because of the unique sense of community it creates.

“Culmination was really big for me because it’s you earning your place in the Corps,” Loss said. “Going through this awful workout that’s just so intense and so difficult but finally getting to the end of that and you’re rewarded with this thing — you feel like you earned it together with all of your closest friends.”

Final Review

Final Review is an event where the entire Corps of Cadets assemble at the Simpson Drill Field for a full military review. It is the last official requirement Corps members must complete before they are released for summer break. The tradition consists of two Passes in Review in which Corps student march in front of a reviewing party consisting of various dignitaries and the commandant of the Corps. The first review of the day is for all Corps students of the school year followed by the second review, in which that year’s freshmen, sophomores and juniors pass in front of the graduating seniors.

At the end of this semester, aerospace engineering senior and Squadron 23 member Matthew Trumm will attend his last final review.

“Final review is special each year for different reasons,” Trumm said. “Your freshman year, you’re no longer a freshman; you’re an upperclassman. Your sophomore year, you’re finally a whitebelt, which gives you more privileges. Your junior year, you finally get to wear your boots and your senior year, you’re finally done.”

Final review is a symbolic time for underclassmen as they honor graduating seniors and take on new roles in the Corps as the year comes to a close, Trumm said.

Final review is the official “Congratulations, zips. You’re done.”
— Matthew Trumm, Aerospace Engineering Senior and Squadron 23 Member

March to the Brazos

Each year, the Corps leads the largest student-led March of Dimes fundraiser in the country. March to the Brazos was originally held on April Fool’s Day to prevent cadets from playing tricks, but ended in 1912. The event was restarted in 1977. It begins with a nine-mile trek from main campus to the Brazos River, where the cadets compete in various competitions. On their return, the senior class “dies off” and rides buses while next year’s seniors lead the cadets on their return to campus.

“It’s kind of like we’re in our new roles, and we are going to act accordingly,” Trumm said.

Donations gathered as part of the march support the March of Dimes’ work to improve the health of mothers and babies.

“You do the whole thing together as an outfit,” Loss said. “So it really draws you close and brings you together because at the end of the day you’ve walked like 18 miles together.”

Silver Taps, Ross Volunteers and Echo Taps

Silver Taps was first held in 1898 to honor Lawrence Sullivan Ross. Today, it is a university-wide tradition to honor students who have passed away. It is held in Academic Plaza on the first Tuesday of the month throughout the school year.

Industrial distribution senior Josh Donnell is a member of the Ross Volunteer Company. In addition to serving as the official Honor Guard of the Governor of Texas, the RVs are responsible for performing the 21-gun salute at Silver Taps and Aggie Muster.

“There’s nothing like Silver Taps and Muster anywhere,” Donnell said. “So I think being a direct part of that and given the opportunity to help in any way is just an amazing part of being an Aggie.”

English junior Nathanael Duty is a member of the H-1 outfit. Duty said that on the day of Silver Taps, freshmen cadets carry notecards with the names of classmates who have died.

“[Silver Taps] creates an atmosphere or culture where people value someone after their death, so they take a moment and remember the legacy that someone has created,” Duty said.

Similar to Silver Taps, when a current member of the Corps dies or there is a national tragedy, the cadets have an Echo Taps ceremony at the Quad. The ceremony begins at 10:30 p.m., when cadets line the length of the Quad at attention. A bugler plays taps at one end of the Quad followed by another bugler at the opposite end who echoes the call.

Annual Echo Taps are held in remembrance of tragedies such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the collapse of the A&M Bonfire on Nov. 18, 1999.

Donnell said traditions are more important than many students think because they can connect Aggies throughout time.

“I think it’s important that we maintain these traditions because that’s who we are,” Donnell said. “It’s a joke that if something happens twice it’s a tradition, but I think that there’s a greater meaning behind traditions that people don’t realize.”