Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The University of South Carolina Pays Remembrance To Tragedy

Roughly two weeks ago, a horrible beach house fire in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. killed seven college students, six from South Carolina and one from Clemson. Due to the severity of the tragedy, and its occurence so close to the Clemson vs. South Carolina game on November 24, the Gamecocks have canceled their annual "Tigerburn" rally.

It's a tradition that's been ongoing since 1909, and was started as a way to quell a "disagreement" after the 1902 game.

In the 1902 game, Carolina defeated Clemson 12-8, marking Carolina's first victory against Clemson since the teams' inaugural game in 1896.

The same day of the win, a local Columbia tobacco merchant displayed a transparency illustrating a crowing gamecock over a battered tiger in front of his store. Elated Carolina students marched the banner up and down Main Street, gloating over their triumph as a way to retaliate against Clemson students, who marched through Columbia with garnet and black cloth around their shoes after their previous wins against Carolina.

Carolina students planned to carry the banner in the Elks parade the next day. Clemson students swore they would steal the banner if it were part of the parade. Following this threat, Columbia authorities requested that the Carolina students not parade the banner, but the students refused.

Carolina students carried the banner in the parade, and about 400 Clemson students advanced on the Horseshoe armed with sabers and bayonets on a mission to seize the banner. But 30 Carolina students were armed with pistols and rifles and were ready to defend the banner.

But before gunshots could be fired, police arrived and a joint committee of faculty members and students from both colleges was created for peaceful negotiations.

The committee decided to burn the banner, which was responsible for provoking the hostility.

Ironically, Clemson and Carolina students stood together, side by side, during the first Tigerburn as they watched the banner turn to ashes.

It is sad that such a storied tradition won't be carried out for the game, but cancelling it shows USC's commitment to remembering the students that perished in the tragic fire. Hopefully both sides can use it as a healing mechanism, and it turns out to be a good, clean game.

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