Aggie Muster Day. It stills me. It humbles me. It overwhelms me.
For my non-Aggie readers, Muster is — basically — a memorial service for all the Aggies who have passed away in the last year. (The Muster Tradition on the Association website.) The March 1923 Texas Aggie urged, “If there is an A&M man in one hundred miles of you, you are expected to get together, eat a little, and live over the days you spent at the A&M College of Texas.”
Muster is held in over 300 locations around the world on April 21st every year. It is held in small towns, big cities, foxholes, ships, war torn countries, restaurants and in private residences around a dinner table. It is a time where all Aggies gather together, and have their Aggie Spirit rekindled and they pay homage to those who have passed on ahead of us.
My first Aggie Muster was in 2002 on campus. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote that night afterwards:
The class of 1952 was present for the 50th class reunion. The rememberance of their time on campus, and what they’ve done since their graduation… my heart filled with a pride and awe that… I had tears in my eyes throughout it all. So much and so many to honor…
…so much to live up to…
They were given one helluva standing ovation.
Then, he turned to the present students… “the keepers of the spirit”… by this time, after hearing all the great things graduates of the schol have done, I myself began to doubt, for the first time ever, if I, myself, am good enough… if I am right… to attend this school. How can I live up to these standards? How can I truly think myself worthy? He addressed that head on, as if he knew those thoughts were running through students heads. And he issued these three questions, and if you could answer yes to them, then you belong at where you are:
“When Silver Taps is played, does it still bring chills? At the beginning of the fourth quarter at football games when 80,000 join in the Fight Song, do your eyes still mist over? When you think of that tragic November when Bonfire fell, does your heart still ache?”
I had tears rolling as I answered a proud “YES” to every question.
Even this year, seven years after that night, when I attended Muster in Franklin, TN for my third Muster in Middle Tennessee, I was moved to tears.
The Muster chair said at one point, “I hope you all leave with a revived hope that knowing as an Aggie, you will never be forgotten.”
THAT statement made in 2002 is what really gets to me about Muster. You will never be forgotten. When my time in this world is over, my name will be on the roll call and fellow Aggies will answer “Here” for me.
I was chairperson for this year’s Muster in Middle Tennessee. It was a LOT of work!! But it was truly a labor of love. Even as I grumbled at times that I’d not be doing it again, deep down I knew/know I’d be honored to take on the task again.
I wasn’t very active as a student at A&M, really. I worked for The Battalion in the AggieLife section, but even my work done there was not what it should have been. I lived in Cameron with my parents and drove two hours round-trip every day to class. I didn’t mind the drive at all — I enjoyed it really — but it didn’t leave much room to be active in organization and clubs. And to be honest, I was at a point in my life that I wasn’t that interested in being active. I had a wicked shy streak going on, and getting past it was something I was not “willing” to do. I kept my head down and did what I had to do, but I never really put myself out there.
Today, I have a new attitude and outlook on life and myself. And within that, I have this stronger interest in being active with my Texas A&M Club. I want to meet more Aggies! I want to know all of them here! I want to be right there in the thick of it all. I want to truly earn and portray my status as an Aggie.
And without a single doubt or hesitation, I know that the Aggie Muster tradition is my all-time favorite of the many traditions my school has. I am passionate about it. It encompasses EVERYTHING I feel an Aggie to be. Honor and respect of others. Love of university. The unity and family that only Aggies can understand.
We had a Longhorn in attendance at our Muster this year. He himself was moved by the tradition and even shhh’d a waitress during Silver Taps… which he too stood for in honor of our fallen Aggies. We had a former Baylor Bear, who is now going on to grad school at A&M, in attendance for his first Muster. We had spouses of Aggies. We had the children of Aggies. We had new grads, and old Ags. We all stood together that night in this unspoken comeraderie. And we’ll join back again on April 21, 2010.
I, for one, can’t wait.