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The Bears Who Understood the Assignment

Without our Torchbearer members, Baylor Line could not exist. They are a life blood to us all, rich in legacy, wisdom, support, and energy. Too often though, they are known in name-only by most of the Baylor Family. We’d like to introduce you to three Bears who were handed the torch and did something with it.

Editor’s note: You know the line. It is said over and over again. At commencement,
at galas, at award ceremonies.

“To you I hand the torch.”

It is the Immortal Message of the Baylor Family, passed to us by former Baylor President Samuel Palmer Brooks in his final address. Sometimes, messages that are repeated begin to lose their meaning. They become white-washed, in effect. They begin to just be rote exercises in memorization recall. That’s why it is so important to not gloss-over Brooks’s immortal phrase. We should be reaffirmed, recommitted, and re-energized in hearing it, just as we are re-invigorated each year by hearing the story of the Immortal Ten or by the first running of the Baylor Line each football season or by singing the words to That Good Old Baylor Line loud and proud.

This phrase has deep, important, lasting meaning to the Baylor Family.

“To you”

The Baylor Family is made up of many, many Bears. We are a strong, proud group, with a great collection of worldviews, experiences, and perspectives. Together, we form not a nation or a fanbase or a cohort. No, together, we form a Family.

But it’s not the whole Baylor Family without you.

So, it is TO YOU the torch is handed. Not to your neighbor, roommate, spouse, children, or an administrator. It is your torch and you must take it, do something with it, and work to pass it on to the next. Certainly, each Bear receives their own torch. To each Bear a torch is handed. But you are not them. You are you. And this is your torch.

“I hand”

The cover of this issue was difficult to piece together. We painstakingly handcrafted the torch through countless hours of trial and error. The flame was another tricky part. How to make the fire burn bright, attempting to train the tips into licking off into the dark night sky, without the bulb billowing smoke. Hand models was another serious conversation. Lighting, angles, shutter speed, on and on. There were a plethora of moving pieces.

But the most important of all was how the torch was being handed off.

I explained to Scott McAfee, the man behind the hand holding our torch, this hand off must be effortless. The torch is not too weighty. The torch is not a burden. This is a story that has played out for decades on decades on decades.

The torch is handed to the next person, the next generation. It is who we are and what we do as Bears.

“The torch”

Fire has been an irreplaceable resource for humanity since the dawn of time. It is so important to us that myths have lasted for millennia around how humans first received it. Today, fire is a metaphor. One of destruction, but also of enlightenment.

With fire, with a torch, we can light the way. We can light the ways of time.

The light handed to you shines in darkness, it guides you, as it guides generations before. You must use it for its best purposes. The torch you have been handed represents not only past legacies but of the legacy you are building and will pass on to future Bears.

So, you see, this phrase is not a platitude, nor a slogan, nor an exercise in recitation. It is a promise, a call to action, and an encouragement.

You are exactly the right person to receive this torch. You are now responsible for what you do with it. What follows is a set of stories that explain how three incredible Bears each carried their own torch in their own way. 

—Jonathon Platt (‘16, MA ‘19)

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