Once an Aggie, Always an Aggie…
I love my Alma Mater, Texas A&M University. Anyone who knows even a little bit about TAMU knows its steeped in tradition. Of our many traditions — The 12th Man, Midnight Yell, Big Event, Aggie Ring, Replant, Howdy, Gig’em, Reveille, Bonfire, Fish Camp, etc. — my favorite traditions are Silver Taps and Muster. Mostly Muster to be completely honest.
Silver Taps and Muster both honor Aggies who have passed away.
From the Traditions Council website, “By far, one of Texas A&M’s most honored traditions is Silver Taps. Silver Taps is held for a graduate or undergraduate student who passes away while enrolled at A&M. This final tribute is held the first Tuesday of the month following the students’ passing.
The first Silver Taps was held in 1898 and honored Lawrence Sullivan Ross, the former governor of Texas and president of A&M College. Silver Taps is currently held in Academic Plaza. On the day of Silver Taps, a small card with the deceased students name, class, major, and date of birth is placed at the base of the Academic Plaza flagpole, and the Silver Taps Memorial located behind the flagpole. Around 10:15 that night, the lights are extinguished and hymns chime from Albritton Tower. Students silently gather at the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross. At 10:30pm, the Ross Volunteer Firing Squad marches into the plaza and fires a twenty-one gun salute. Buglers then play a special rendition of Silver Taps, by Colonel Richard Dunn, three times from the dome of the Academic Building: once to the north, south, and west. It is not played to the east because it is said that the sun will never rise on that Aggies life again. After the buglers play, the students leave from Academic Plaza in complete silence. Silver Taps is a sacred tradition that Aggies treasure dearly.”
Due to living an hour away from campus while a student at A&M, I only was able to attend one Silver Taps. However, that one time moved me deeply, and marked as one of my most powerful nights as a student.
Its the one tradition I’ve helped keep alive in Nashville for the last six years as Muster Chair for the Middle Tennessee Texas A&M Club.
We call ourselves the Aggie Family, and just as you mourn when a family member passes away in your close family, we, too, mourn our members. That mourning for each year culminates on April 21st when we celebrate Muster.
Softly call the Muster, let comrade answer, “Here”
When we gather for Muster, we take time to visit with fellow Aggies in the area. We remember our days in Aggieland. We make new friends. We take time to visit with old friends.
Then we begin the Muster program, at which time we call the names of Aggies who have passed in the last year from our area, answering with “Here” — marking them present in our hearts and minds.
If seeing the candles lit in their memory doesn’t move you, listening to Silver Taps will. Just last night, as it played and we all stood in silence in honor of those Aggie passed, I felt tears well up in my eyes. It’s a powerful moment. You feel all their Spirits with you. You feel the Spirit of Aggieland.
Perhaps the most humbling thing is knowing that some day… some day your name will be on that roll call. And Aggies — some you know in person, some you never met — will call your name and answer for you with a “Here.”
Muster means a LOT to me, and I think that is why I get overwhelmed every year as I plan it. Its why I fuss and rant to my parents and my husband, when I feel like I am running into roadblocks. I want the night to be perfect. I want people to attend and feel the power of that night along with me. I get burned out, throwing my heart and soul into the event.
And then… then the night happens. I am moved all over again. I am rejuvenated. And I leave already planning the next one in my mind. Already excited to do it all over again.
We stood a little taller,
and a little prouder then
When we heard the call of Muster
and the Roll Call just begin.
We stood there all together
and wiped away the tears
When our names were called out softly
and answered with a “Here!”
… and so we’ve joined together
with our brothers of the past
To make our final resting place
at Aggieland our last.
We take a toast to our brotherhood
wherever they may roam,
For us the trek is over
Aggieland we’re coming home.
by Lt. Col. David Harrigan ‘68