UT remembers longhorns lost

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Each night the Tower glows with orange or white light, depending on the day’s events and successes, but tonight the Tower will only glow in the moonlight in order to commemorate members of the UT community who Longhorns have said goodbye to this past year.

UT Remembers, an annual University event held since 1998 to remember students and current and retired faculty and staff who have passed away in the prior year, is being held all day today. The event is organized each year by the UT Cares Committee, a campus-wide organization formed in 1996 to provide support to the University community in times of trauma or loss. The event begins this morning with a flag ceremony in the Main Mall, followed by an informational grief session, a private lunch, a remembrance ceremony and an absence of light shining upon the tower.

The event brings together people of various relations to those being remembered that have been touched by these deaths, said Robert Meckel, director of public affairs and UT Cares volunteer.

“Families, friends, colleagues and co-workers gather to remember those who died, to reflect upon who they were, what they gave to the institution and what they meant to the people whose lives they touched,” he said.

The morning flag ceremony will consist of lowering both the Texas and U.S. flags at half-mast by UT ROTC students and the placement of flowers at the base of the flag’s poles by University representatives, said Latoya Hill, assistant Dean of Students and ceremony host.

The later remembrance ceremony will name each of the 174 members of the UT community who have passed away from April 2011 to May 2012, with the tower chiming after each name is read, said Dr. Neal Armstrong, Vice Provost and chair of the UT Cares Committee.

A difficult part of the ceremony is acknowledging the fact that a portion of these deaths were those of students, Armstrong said.

“It always strikes us who are involved in the ceremony that these are young peoples’ lives and they have been cut short,” he said. “They were, of course, lives worth living, but lives that did not have a chance to fully bloom. That’s always sad to us.”

Despite its sadness, the event is necessary because of all the important tasks that it accomplishes, Hill said.

“It brings the University together, allows us to honor the loss of Longhorns that have contributed to our campus and lets us mourn their deaths,” she said. “It’s a great way to end the year by honoring those that have given to our University.”

Printed on Friday, May 4, 2012 as: Tower to shine orange for annual 'UT Remembers'