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Aggie Muster 2014

April 22nd, 2014 No comments

I. Love. Aggie. Muster. Even more, I love telling people about Muster and why it, in my opinion, sets my university head and shoulders above the rest. Forget football. Forget national championships. Forget all the research and medical advances being done. Remember the PEOPLE. Remember the SPIRIT.

Middle Tennessee Aggie Muster attendees

Middle Tennessee Aggie Muster attendees

Aggie Muster lands every April 21st. It’s a day in which Aggies gather all around the world — including on military bases during times of war — to visit with each other, remember our times at A&M, and at the pinnacle of the event, call the roll of Aggies who have passed away over the last year. As the names are called, they are answered with a “Here” as their spirit is always present in our hearts.

From the Aggie Traditions website:

Still remembering and honoring the time spent in Aggieland, the tradition of mustering has grown in strength, meaning, and spirit. By 1929, meeting had grown worldwide, and in 1942 Aggie Muster gained international recognition. Twenty-five men, led by General George Moore ’08, mustered during the Japanese Siege of the Philippine island of Corregidor. Knowing that Muster might soon be called for them, these Aggies embodied the essence of commitment, dedication, and friendship- the Aggie Spirit. They risked their lives to honor their beliefs and values. That small group of Aggies on an outpost during World War II inspired what has developed into one of our greatest traditions.

Muster is celebrated in more than four-hundred places world wide, with the largest ceremony on the Texas A&M campus in College Station. The ceremony brings together more Aggies, worldwide, on one occasion than any other event.

Some day my name will be called and answered with a, “Here.”

If that’s not a staggering and humbling realization, then you just don’t GET it.

Calling the roll, Adam Beloney '03 & Greg Dew '80

Calling the roll, Adam Beloney ’03 & Greg Dew ’80

We have a saying at Texas A&M, “Once an Aggie, always an Aggie.” Aggie Muster really embodies that fact, as we pause to remember and reflect on this bond we share with other Aggies. It’s not just a diploma on the wall. It’s not just wearing something maroon and white. It’s not even our beloved Aggie Rings. It’s something so much more. It’s much deeper. Its respect. Dare I say, its about love of your fellow man. As the roll was called and Silver Taps was played, I looked around the room to see many tears being shed. Its overwhelming.

My turn to speak.

My turn to speak.

I’ve organized Muster for middle Tennessee since 2008. I do it because I love it that much. I stress and stress and stress over it, because I want it to be perfect. I can’t relax until we are done, because I feel like if something goes wrong its my fault. I want the spirits of those names we call and their families to know we love and respect them enough to give them a proper “send off.” Logically, I know that no one would hold it against me if something fell through, but in my heart I want it to go perfectly.

One of the biggest things is the guest speaker for each Muster. This year, we had Mike Flynt. His story inspired me when I heard it the first time, and I hope it inspired everyone else at Muster last night.

Mike Flynt

Mike Flynt

How can you not be inspired by a man who went back to college at the age of 59 to play his senior year of football? And who also has such a strong faith and belief in God? I’m still on a high from last night.

So forgive me if I happen to think my university is a little better than the rest. Forgive me if I get fighting mad when people “put down” Texas A&M based strictly on football. Because its so much more. Its so much deeper.

From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.

Gig’em and God Bless.

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Being an Aggie on the Anniversary of Bonfire

November 18th, 2013 2 comments

People give me a hard time now and then about being an Aggie, and its always in reference to football. Now, I’m fine with light-hearted ribbing from friends about football, but when anyone makes a dig about Texas A&M and Aggies in general, I bristle. Quickly. Because there is so very much more to being an Aggie than the football team.

On November 18, 1999, the world’s eyes turned to Texas A&M and for a moment… just a moment… the world got a glimpse of the Spirit of Aggieland. And they might not have understood, but they cared…

Bonfire Memorial

Instead of recounting anything from my point of view on Bonfire’s collapse that day and how I felt then and how I feel today about it, I want to share this blog post from an Aggie, written in 2009.

Before you click that, though, I want to highlight two parts of that post:

From the letter sent to A&M from the University of Texas Student Body VP following the tragedy… For all us Longhorns discount A&M in our neverending rivalry, we need to realize one thing. Aggieland is a special place, with special people. It is infinitely better equipped than us at dealing with a tragedy such as this for one simple reason. It is a family. It is a family that cares for its own, a family that reaches out, a family that is unified in the face of adversity; a family that moved this Longhorn to tears.

Aggies are a family. And that’s why it upsets me when I hear people slamming Johnny Manziel. I’ve never met him. I probably never will. But I don’t care. He’s an Aggie. And in that, he’s family that I find myself defending time and time again.  Now keep in mind, like family, we’ll be the first to chastise a member. Case in point, when Von Miller had his legal woes this year, I felt deeply disappointed, and I watched on Twitter as Aggie after Aggie voiced similar disappointment and frustration. Some declaring they would no longer consider themselves a fan of his. We might be the first to defend, but we are also some of the first to shake our fingers at our fellow Aggies when they do wrong.

It’s also why our hearts break and you’ll see us all cry when we lose an Aggie family member… even one we don’t know personally. Bonfire was particularly devastating. It happened on campus. It was/is a cherished school tradition. These were 12 young lives cut short, and many more left injured. Our hearts broke collectively.

But in every time of trial and heartache, we pull together and are reminded we’re family. And that… THAT… is something so special it can’t be accurately described in words.

The second part I want to highlight: …the Longhorn band’s tribute was one of the classiest and moving tributes I have seen. Maybe their response to our tragedy is the reason that, even though they are our rivals, I still have such respect for the school as a whole…

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Alumni get it. I, too, have a deep down respect for the University of Texas and its alumni members. There are your bad seeds, sure. There are at Texas A&M, too. (Hey, every family has its members you go, “Yeah we don’t talk about him much…” LOL!) But on a whole, you’ll find major respect between alumni members of the two schools. I recently had a lighthearted and delightful banter with a Longhorn at work that left me with a spring in my step.

In fact, you’ll find respect between members of alumni of MOST major universities. I’ve encountered the same respect working with alumni of SEC and ACC schools.

T-shirt fans, though… those are the ones that will throw out the asinine comments I refer to in my opening of this blog post. My most recent bristle being, “So how do you wear that [Texas A&M] ball cap without getting smacked!?”

Really?

I wear it with pride for SO MANY reasons… reasons that are deep in my heart. Reasons the person asking that question could never in a million years understand… not that they’d ever care to really listen in the first place. And those reasons are the ones that are why at 2:42 am on November 18th, I stop and take a moment to remember.  Those reasons are why I put my heart of soul into Aggie Muster every year. Those are the reasons why I wear my Aggie ring with pride every single day, and why I make sure to speak to Aggies when I cross paths with them.

Roll your eyes if you want. I don’t care. But I am an Aggie and I’m proud of that fact. Now go read that blog post and hear about what makes this day stand out every November from yet another Aggie.

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10 years a former student

August 15th, 2013 1 comment

“It was here that our lives were forever changed, and loyalty to on another and to a cause greater than self filled our hearts.” — Phillip D Adams, Class of 1970

showing off the diploma

Ten years ago today, a dream came true. I graduated from Texas A&M University. I walked across the stage at Reed Arena. I shook hands with then-University President Robert M Gates. I ceased to be a student, and I joined the thousands of Aggie Alumni as a former student.

Thankfully, I kept a great journal back in those days (something I lament not doing now and someday hope to get back to doing) and I can go back and re-read the little details of the August 15, 2003 that I have long forgotten.

I set my alarms for 5:30 and then 5:45. I needed to be leaving the house no later than 7:00 to get to Reed Arena on time. Well, I apparently turned off my alarms at some point, because I woke up at 6:20 and had to run like a mad woman. [...] Of course, I can’t find the panty hose I’d bought for the day, so I had to search for a pair that didn’t have a run in them. My hair took extra long to dry and then make-up just wasn’t going smooth. I ran out of the house at 7:10.

Clearly, some things have not changed in 10 years.

Finally, the time came. We started out of our “holding area.” (We had Journalism, Sociology, Philosophy, Music, etc. in our area.) We had to go down SEVEN flights of stairs to the floor of Reed. [...] They all got a kick out of the top of my hat, “Happy Hour” when they saw it, since they were behind me and thus above me on the stairs going down.

receiving my diploma photo by parents

Yes, yes I did put a glittery “Happy Hour” across the top of my cap… I wasn’t a big drinker back then, so maybe my amusement and use of that phrase was a strange foreshadowing of my later bartending. Or maybe I’m reaching with that…

We did give our parents a standing ovation, at which point I almost bawled. I am so lucky to have the most amazing parents in the world. I could never thank them enough for all that they do.

Again, some things never, ever change. And I am SO thankful for that.

with mom and dad

My turn came and…I honestly remember very little. LOL! I was so busy focusing on not tripping, trying to hear how much applause I got, making sure I shook President Gates’ hand and took the tube correctly, and making sure I was smiling for the camera. My brain was on overload. Suddenly the diploma is in my hand, I’m walking across the stage to shake hands with the Dean of Liberal Arts and then two guys from the Association of Former Students. I walked off the stage, shook hands with Dr. Walraven, Dean of Journalism, and then practically ran back to my chair.

getting my diploma

The important thing here was that I didn’t trip. Thank God. And I suppose I should add that my diploma really was inside the tube I was handed. That was pretty important as well.

We sang the Spirit of Aggieland, and then that was it! It was over! I was all graduated.

I didn’t have a job when I graduated. I was on a serious burn-out from having been taking classes almost non-stop for over a year. I had a degree, but no where to use it at that time. It was a little scary! I stepped off into the great big world with only the safety nets of a degree and amazing parents…

Ten years later, I look back and marvel a bit at all that’s happened in the last decade. I did use my degree for over a year at a small-town Texas newspaper. I still consider myself using it when blogging and doing any design work. I use it every day in ways I couldn’t begin explain.

metexasflag03

If I could give all graduating seniors from high school one piece of advice it would be to go to college. Even if you don’t know what you want to do or be. Go. Embrace it. Embrace both the in-class education as well as the life-in-general education you’ll receive. Because in four (five or six or however many) years you attend college, you’ll grow and change as much as you did from Kindergarten to 12th grade. College has a lasting effect well past the pomp and circumstance of graduation… well past the GPA you end up having.

In the 10 years since I graduated, I also got married and moved two states away from my family. I’ve traveled to places I never thought I’d travel. I’ve embraced my roll as a former student of Texas A&M University as an active member of my local A&M Club. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve had amazing successes. And all of them… ALL of them… were in some way an extension of what I learned during my time in college… even if the only thing tying it all together is the confidence and accomplishment I got from earning my degree.

I am the proudest member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2003… and today I celebrate that fact more than ever.

class-seal

Here

April 22nd, 2013 4 comments

musterprogram 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.

MusterMuster, however, Muster has become a huge part of my life. As a student, it was the one tradition I made sure I attended every year. And its the one tradition I have not missed in over ten years.

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.

In Memoriam

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

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I am an Aggie

January 11th, 2013 2 comments

My Aggie RingThere’s a double-edged sword to having a great football season. You finally feel like your team is getting respect, but you also end up with a whole lot of people suddenly jumping on the bandwagon claiming to be a fan of your team.

I’m all about my Texas A&M Aggies gaining more fans! That’s great! But I also always kinda liked there being truth in the idea that if you see someone in a Texas A&M shirt, they went to school there. (Or are directly related to someone who did.) It somehow, in my mind, gave our fan base a huge level of credibility (or something like that.)

I overheard someone the other day, talking about Texas A&M and another person joke, “So you dragged that item of clothing out of the closet for the first time in how many years?” clearly poking fun at the other person as if they were a fair-weather fan. I think it was at that point that it hit me… there’s a lot of people who are fans only when we’re good who will suddenly be coming out of the woodwork to “claim” the teams success as their own.

This seriously bothered me for a long time, but in the end… I suppose its good. The more people who take note of TAMU in a positive light, the more they’ll notice all the other amazing things about the university that I love. The 12th Man. Muster. Corp of Cadets. Reveille. Silver Taps. Our many advances in the world of science and business. Our contribution to our military. Howdy, Dammit! and Whoop!

I am an Aggie. I have been since before I was even born. I went to school at Texas A&M Univeristy. I’m not just a fan. I AM an Aggie. I have the diploma on the wall to prove it. I wear my class ring every single day, proud of my accomplishment and my school. Even in our crappy years, I’ve worn my maroon with pride… happy to tell anyone who will listen that I am an Aggie. My blood runs a deep maroon and it always will. No one can take that away from me. No one ever will.

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Always an Aggie

November 24th, 2012 1 comment

Back in August, I put my Aggie flag out by my porch.

Once an Aggie, always an Aggie.

I put it out feeling strongly we’d struggle this year. First year in the SEC. New coach. Everything in general said this would be a losing year. I didn’t care… I am an Aggie in my heart and in my blood. I’d fly my flag with pride.

Then… then we started winning. What?

Then Heisman talk started for our Freshman QB “Johnny Football.”

I started getting high fives in the bar on Saturdays, when I wear my Aggie gear to work.

We beat #1 Alabama.

Even more high fives. Even more Heisman talk. Stronger talk. Stats started to be thrown around. Texas A&M has been making waves this year. Ranked in the Top 10 going into our last week of regular season play. BCS bowl speculations.

Tonight, we go into our game against Mizzou — fellow former Big XII team now in the SEC. We’re favored to win, but I know better than to just expect it. Look at Alabama, Oregon and K-State this year alone.

Wrong, Feldman. It’s always felt good to be an Aggie. I’ve been proud to be an Aggie since the day I was born. We’re having a good year, yes. VERY good year. But I’m proud of my school even when we’re having an off year.

Win or lose. Always an Aggie.

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