Memorial marking 50 years since UT Tower shooting unveiled

UT Tower on Aug. 1, 2016 (KXAN Photo)
UT Tower (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new memorial unveiled at the University of Texas at Austin Monday marks 50 years since the mass shooting from the UT Tower.

The Tower Garden, located just north of the tower, was also rededicated. It was unveiled in 1999 in memory of the 13 people killed in the Aug. 1, 1966 shooting. More than 30 others were injured.

The event — planned for the campus community, victims and survivors of the tragedy — was open to the public. Before the 12 p.m. ceremony, the bells of the Tower Carillon tolled at 11:48 a.m. to remember when the shooting happened, and the tower clock stopped for 24 hours. Flags were also lowered on the Main Mall. A bagpiper led a procession from the mall to the Tower Garden, leading to the rededication ceremony from 12:10 to 12:40 p.m.

Speakers included University President Greg Fenves, shooting survivor and co-chair of the Texas Tower Memorial Committee Claire Wilson James, UT student witness James Bryce and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who was elected president of the UT Austin student body in 1967.

For Doggett, the UT tower still brings back good memories despite the tragedy that happened there.

“I was growing up here in Austin’s earlier pre-skyscraper days, this was the place you always brought visitors to look at the panorama of our 40 acres and of our city,” remembered Doggett.

With survivors and their families looking on, Fenves tried to explain why school officials were reluctant to address the shootings.

“In the ensuing decades, there was an instinct to shield the University by not associating it with a single crime. To not allow tragedy to define the tower, the central symbol of this institution,” said Fenves.

Fenves hopes the new memorial will serve as a reminder of a community that came together during a horrific time.

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