photo courtesy of Wikimedia
Within minutes of the collapse, word of the accident spread among students and the community. Before sunrise, the accident was the subject of news reports around the world. Within hours, 50 satellite trucks were broadcasting from the Texas A&M campus. At noon, students held an impromptu prayer service in the center of campus, at Rudder Fountain. An official memorial service was held less than seventeen hours after the collapse. Over 16,000 mourners, including then Texas Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry, packed Reed Arena to pay tribute to those who died and those who had spent all day trying to rescue the injured. At the end of the service, as A&M University President Ray Bowen presented roses to the families of the dead and injured students, the crowd spontaneously stood in silence, linking arms with those standing next to them, before quietly singing "Amazing Grace." Only after all of the rescue workers and family members had left the facility did the audience depart.On November 25, 1999, the date that Bonfire would have burned, Aggies instead held a vigil and remembrance ceremony. Over 40,000 people lit candles and observed up to two hours of silence at the site of the collapse, before walking to Kyle Field for yell practice. At the stadium, fans spontaneously relit their candles as the Parsons Mounted Cavalry fired the Aggie cannon twelve times, once for each victim. Former President George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara and Texas Governor George W. Bush and his wife Laura attended the remembrance ceremony.
The Bonfire Memorial Commission collected the hundreds of thousands of items that were left by grieving visitors at the site of the collapse. At the Systems Building, Texas A&M leaders erected pictures of the deceased students. There, over a dozen seniors left behind their Aggie rings, permanently donating them to the students who did not live long enough to earn their own.