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Silver Taps is one of the oldest and finest traditions of the Texas A&M student body. No other institution has ever devised such a simple yet eloquent tribute to one of its departed members. Silver Taps is an expression of the great heart of Texas A&M. This information is provided so that you may know more about this cherished and honored tradition.
Silver Taps is that final tribute paid to an Aggie who, at the time of their death, was enrolled in graduate or undergraduate courses at Texas A&M. It began in 1898 when the first Silver Taps was held in honor of Lawrence Sullivan Ross. The ceremony was observed in front of Old Main until it burned in 1912, and then in front of Goodwin Hall until 1918 when it was moved to the present site, in front of the Academic Building.
Over time, new traditions have been added to Silver Taps. In the 1920’s, the flag was placed at half-staff the day of Silver Taps. The special music "Silver Taps," composed by Colonel Richard J. Dunn, was played by two buglers during the 1930’s. This haunting arrangement is not formally written; it is passed from bugler to bugler. The chimes, which play prior to Silver Taps, were rung from 1955 to 1973. They were resumed in 1975 after the renovation of the Memorial Student Center. Formerly, Silver Taps was observed as soon as possible after the death of an Aggie. Today it is held on the first Tuesday of each month from September to April, if necessary.
The ceremony begins on the day of Silver Taps when the flag in front of the Academic Building is placed at half-staff. Notices are posted at the Memorial Student Center, Evans Library, and at the base of the flagpole in front of the Academic Building. At 10:15 p.m., chimes from the Albritton Bell Tower begin to play. The ceremony begins at 10:30 p.m. as the Ross Volunteers Firing Squad marches in slow cadence to the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross. Three volleys are fired. "Silver Taps" is played by six buglers three times – to the North, West, and South. This concludes the ceremony, but not the feelings of respect and honor.
With respect, the ceremony of Silver Taps is dedicated to the deceased Aggie and is a solemn and serious event. Some important observances must be remembered:
- The area in front of the Sul Ross statue and the Academic Building is reserved for the friends and family of the deceased.
- Aggies do not stand or sit on the benches lining the walkway between the flagpole and the Sul Ross statue.
- The darkness and quiet, which cover the campus, emphasize the mood for Silver Taps. Aggies help to retain this tranquility by covering windows, keeping noise to a minimum, and walking to and from the ceremony without talking.
- The name of the deceased Aggie is posted on the flagpole base during the day of Silver Taps.