Softly Call The Muster…

April 21st. Just another day to most people. San Jacinto Day in Texas. Aggie Muster Day to Aggies.

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.

Further on…

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.

A positive reason to Twitter

It’s been all over the news the last few months. Twitter. That social networking site that asks, “What are you doing?” And like every “new big thing” it has its fans, it has its haters, and it has its lukewarm participants.

I, personally, land in that first group. Twitter has become my new one-stop-shop online. It lets me get the news, check in on friends, share pictures, have a laugh, etc.

However, it does have its “haters.” I can understand this group. Twitter does come across as one huge narcissistic tool for users. Who really cares what you made for dinner, what color your underwear is, and/or if your cat just hacked up a hairball? Beyond on that, is it really safe to tell the world where you are at any given time?

Posting your location at any given moment, gives an unheeded vulnerability to your life and your safety. This is a stalker’s DREAM, and even a house burglar’s. I admit myself of being guilty of exposing myself with too many details on my location at a given moment. Its all too easy to do, and you get caught up in the moment, never thinking about the potential consequences.

Some question if Twitter is the death of the true blogging or journaling. In this world of faster is better, are we sacrificing well thought-out writings to made a point quickly in 140-characters? Possibly! I admit that that is very possible.

However, despite the misgivings of Twitter, I am a solid fan of the site and the “product” it provides its users. I can receive the latest news in world news, local news, entertainment and financial. They are delivered to me, by my choice, to my Twitter page, or whatever program I’m using (TweetDeck or Twhirl are my favorites). I can access it by cell phone, update it via text message, and even choose “Twitter feeds” that I have delivered to my phone via text message! (A favorite is Nashville Traffic updates.)

Herein lies my strongest vote for Twitter. The instant news updates.

Last week, middle Tennessee became the target of an EF-4 tornado. A tornado that came within about 10 miles of my house. My absolute best updates on the storms came from Twitter. People who live near me were posting updates. The local news media posted updates. All of these were available at the tips of my fingers with the simple click of “Refresh.” Within hours, I knew people were safe. My home was safe. And I “met” people online who knew those who weren’t as lucky as I was.

In those stressful hours, I came to realize what an invaluable tool Twitter can be. It could be considered our modern day Ham Radio and/or telegraph.

Twitter is serious in serious times. When times are good, its a fun discussion among like-minded people (some have come to call their followers their “Tweeples”) that, yes, consists of what they had for supper, what they think about the latest infomercial or the fact that their cat hacked up a hairball. Witty banter, mundane day events, and hard news exist side-by-side in the Twitter universe.

As with any social networking site, post your thoughts carefully. Choose your follows even more carefully. Make friends… make enemies. Spread the news. Learn the news. Realize that jobs can be made and lost based on your Twitter posts. Realize its the Internet, and much like life… once you say it, you can’t take it back.