By Bailey Brammer | Editor-in-Chief
Almost all Baylor students are familiar with this saying and its connection to the school’s history; on Jan. 22, 1927, 22 young men made their way to the University of Texas in a bus for a basketball game, and 10 of those students lost their lives in a bus-train collision.
The inclusion of Mass Meeting in Baylor’s homecoming schedule, as well as the annual Immortal Ten basketball game and the memorial statue in Traditions Square, certainly do a good job reminding the campus of the significance of this tragedy. However, the key phrase associated with the Immortal Ten, “for they are the we of us,” is sometimes lost in translation, and can be sometimes misunderstood by students.
Last fall, I had the privilege and honor of participating in Mass Meeting as an Immortal Ten representative. I, along with nine other students, stood in the center of the Ferrell Center in front of a majority of the freshman class and symbolized the young men who perished on the way to do something they were passionate about.
While most of the men who lost their lives were members of the basketball team, I portrayed L.R. “Ivey” Foster Jr., an athletic freshman who had just been named sports editor of the Lariat, which was known as the Daily Lariat at that point in history. Foster had decided to hitchhike from Waco to Austin to get to the game, and the bus driver took pity on the young man and picked him up so he didn’t have to endure the torrential rain.
The planners behind Mass Meeting told us before the event that the students they had selected as representatives had special connections to the people they were standing in for. Some of these links took a bit of digging through history to find; I felt lucky that mine was so apparent.
The Lariat has been a part of my Baylor experience since my freshman year, and Foster was hired as a freshman too. Although I haven’t served as sports editor as Foster did, I grew up as an athlete and have always appreciated and enjoyed sports journalism. As my fellow representatives discovered their own correlations to the Immortal Ten, I was struck by just how many similarities we had with these young men.
Each of the Immortal Ten had a unique story, and each of them was as much a Baylor Bear as all of us are today. They had families, friends and professors that they left behind, and they each had an area of study they were passionate about, spanning everything from engineering to French to history. They were involved in other on- and off-campus activities, they went to class, they took Baylor girls on dates (although they may not have been searching for their “Ring by Spring”), they spent late nights studying in their dorms and probably skipped a class or two. They attended athletic events, slept through a few Chapel services, participated in the country’s oldest homecoming celebration and looked forward to “flinging their green and gold afar” after graduation.
Overall, these young men were a lot like you and me. While technology has advanced and much has changed in the last 91 years, horrific accidents such as this still happen, and young men and women who have their whole lives ahead of them are abruptly ripped away from their bright futures.
As you’re making your way from class to class this week, or cheering on the men’s and women’s basketball teams, take a moment to remember the Immortal Ten; these 10 young men, ennobled as they may be, were once just 10 Baylor students, just as we are … for they are the we of us.