UT Tower's legacy, 33 years later

This story originally was published on August 1, 1991.

All who were on the University of Texas at Austin campus Aug. 1, 1966, as I was, will forever remember the events of that day. The Tower shootings deeply affected the lives of many people in the community, the state and the nation.

At 4 p.m. today, the university will honor all those who died and those whose lives were touched by this tragedy. At the ceremony, we will dedicate a grassy, tree-covered site just north of the Main Building as the Tower Garden.

A favorite spot for reading, reflection and quiet lunches on the lawn, this parcel of land includes ponds, flowing water and native Texas plants. I will appoint a committee of representatives from the university and the community to recommend a design plan for the Tower Garden, where we will conduct the annual "UT Remembers" memorial service next May.

In addition to the dedication, university ROTC cadets and the Texas State Guard from Camp Mabry will perform a flag-lowering ceremony at 9 a.m. today on the South Mall. At dusk, the UT Tower will be darkened in tribute and will remain so through the night. The public is welcome to attend these events.

Since its construction in celebration of the Texas Centennial in 1936, the Tower has served as the university's most distinguishing landmark and as a symbol of academic excellence and personal opportunity. In 1974, after several suicides, the observation deck of the Tower was closed to the public. This year, when we reopen the UT Tower, we also remember the unfortunate chapters of its history. Our community does not expect to erase these painful memories, but we can move forward. The Tower plays a central role in the daily life of the campus. Everything from marriage proposals to commencement ceremonies to spirited public debate takes place in and around this magnificent building. During our years as members of the university community, all of us encounter elation, sadness, triumph, disappointment and loss.

The Tower is linked to our experiences on the Forty Acres -- our finest hours, as well as our greatest sorrows. Its experience has mirrored ours. In all human endeavors, each of us meets adversity and must strive to go beyond it.

In that same spirit, we now recall moments of the Tower's past, but we also renew our commitment to let it stand for a still better university, supporting the best talents and aspirations of the people of Texas.

Faulkner was president of the University of Texas at Austin from 1998-2006.

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