Darrell Huckaby - Preparing for a pilgrimmage

Let me tell y'all about the next chapter in the Texas A&M odyssey. If you are a regular reader, you'll know what I am talking about. If you aren't - I'll catch you up.

A while back, which is Southern for eight or nine weeks ago, I was on vacation with my family on Jekyll Island. I ran into a young couple outside the Sweet Shoppe in the Millionaire's Village. The man had a military haircut and was wearing a Texas A&M baseball cap and his wife was young and beautiful, so, naturally, being a sucker for the men and women of our armed forces, not to mention beautiful women, I struck up a conversation and learned that he had just returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq.

Afterward I wrote about the experience and about how impressed I was with the incredible patriotism and selflessness that the young couple demonstrated. Some of you may remember that column. You may also remember that the column was posted on a few Texas A&M Web sites, eliciting a huge response from Aggies all over the world - literally.

I heard from people in Beijing, China, and London, England, and all points in between. The writers of those letters universally praised their school and practically each and every person who wrote told me about the spirit and uniqueness that makes College Station, Texas, a special place.

I was so impressed by their fervor that I wrote a follow-up article, singing the praises of Aggies everywhere and the love they have for their school and, more importantly, for their country. That column was also circulated and the response was overwhelming. I received more than 2000 e-mails. Many, many people invited me to visit College Station.

I was offered airfare and lodging and food and football tickets - one group of students actually offered to take up a collection to pay for my trip. The response was absolutely amazing.

I have never been very good at accepting gifts so I couldn't let anybody pay my way to Texas, but I did decide that I had to go to College Station and see what all the fuss is about. Everyone assured me that the best time to go would be in the fall. They promised me that I would never set foot on a more spirited campus and they told me about their "Midnight Yell" pep-rallies and how courteous they are to visitors and about the magnificent Aggie band and on and on and on. One wonderful couple even sent me my very own Texas A&M "Twelfth Man" football jersey. Honesty compels me to admit that a trip to a football game sounded very enticing - and I may yet try game day in College Station on for size.

But y'all know me. I am a spur-of-the-moment kind of guy. I decided that I didn't want to wait until fall to visit Texas A&M. I decided that I had to go this summer. Besides. Y'all all know where I spend my Saturdays during football season and my Georgia Bulldogs will probably go into the season ranked No. 1 in the land. I won't say that I won't be able to tear myself away from Athens this fall, but it might be hard.

At any rate, I made plans to head for College Station, Texas, next week - on my own dime. But I still had a problem. There were hundreds of people who said that they wanted to meet me and show me around and tell me about their school. Obviously, I couldn't be shown around by hundreds of people, but I did want to meet as many folks as possible who were sincere when they said they wanted to say hello to me if I were ever in town.

So this is what I did. I contacted some people at Texas A&M, whom I knew only through the power of e-mail, and invited myself to come to their school - and asked them to arrange a place for me to receive any guests that may or may not show up to greet me.

Isn't that a heck of a note?

If the folks I contacted thought I was crazy or incredibly egotistical or both, they didn't let on. They simply said, "Come on down. We'd love to have you."

So on Monday evening, June 30, at 7 p.m. this humble correspondent will be making a short speech in the Flag Room at Memorial Hall on the Texas A&M campus. I don't know if one person will show up or a hundred people or no people - but I will be there to tell the folks how much I admire and respect their school and all it stands for. I won't just be whistling "Dixie," either.

I already know from more than 2000 e-mail writers that College Station is a special place and I am ready to be impressed. Stay tuned and I'll tell you all about it. I have a feeling that this story isn't near over yet.

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.