Muster, Texas A&M University’s annual solemn tradition — and one of its most visible — will be held at sites around the world Saturday (April 21), including four in Afghanistan and one in Kuwait, with the campus ceremony expected to pack Reed Arena.
Muster is a time set aside each year to honor Aggies who have died since the ceremony was held a year ago.
No matter where Aggies are, whether they are as few as two or as many as the thousands who will gather at 7 p.m. Saturday in Reed Arena, they come together each April 21 for Muster.
Among those being honored at the campus Muster are two service members who died while on active duty: Marine Corps Maj. Nathan W. Anderson ’02 from Amarillo, who died Feb. 22 in a helicopter accident during a training exercise at the Yuma Training Range Complex near the Arizona-California border, and. Army Lt. Col. David E. “Dave” Cabrera ’92 from Houston, died Oct. 29, 2011, when a suicide bomber rammed an armored bus in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
Planners say the exact number of Muster ceremonies being held around the world is difficult to determine because some are spontaneous, including some held on battlefields, just as happened during World Wars I and II and in Korea and Vietnam. They say almost 350 Muster ceremonies are currently scheduled on Saturday, including four in Afghanistan and one in Kuwait. A map showing the locations of the off-campus Musters is here.
The campus ceremony is expected to attract more than 12,500 students, former students and others. It is student organized, with the student making the decision of whom to invite as speaker. This year, John R. Hoyle, professor emeritus of educational administration and a 1957 graduate of Texas A&M, has been selected as Muster speaker.
Hoyle, who specializes in leadership training and assessment and future studies, is recognized as one of America’s leading researchers and is an authority on the visioning process. Muster planners say Hoyle is a dynamic speaker who spices his content with humor and motivational stories.
In a recent national survey of education leaders, Hoyle was selected by his peers as one of America’s four “exceptional living scholars” in educational administration/leadership. In 1999, the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration honored him with its first Living Legend Award, and in 2008, the Texas Council of Professors of Educational Administration also presented him with its Living Legend Award. He also received the coveted Golden Deeds Award for distinguished service to Texas education.
A popular Muster speaker, Hoyle has taught hundreds of Aggies, chaired approximately 120 doctoral committees and received two distinguished teaching awards from The Association of Former Students.
In addition to numerous scholarly articles, book chapters and books, he also wrote the “Good Bull” book series containing humorous stories about student escapades at Texas A&M and, as he says, “the names of these students have been changed to protect the guilty.” His latest book, coauthored by Mario Torres, is Preparing Exemplary Principals and Superintendents: Leadership Education at Its Best.
Though Muster ends on a somber note, the day begins with fun.
Many former students return to campus for Muster, among them those who graduated 50 years before who hold a special class reunion. This year, it will be Texas A&M’s Class of 1962.
This year will also mark the rededication of the Memorial Student Center with ceremonies set for 10 a.m. The MSC, first opened on Muster day in 1951, closed for renovation and expansion in 2009. Following the rededication ceremonies, students, faculty, staff, local residents and campus visitors will have the opportunity to tour the new facility at their leisure.
Muster and MSC rededication activities begin with a 9 a.m. flag-raising ceremony and Corps of Cadets formation in the plaza in front of the Academic Building and will be followed at 11 a.m. by the annual Camaraderie Barbecue. This year it will be held at Rudder Fountain and the entertainment includes the Fish Drill Team, Apotheosis, Salsa Fusion, the Yell Leaders and Head Football Coach Kevin Sumlin. Organizers say this is a chance for Aggies of all ages to gather and share fun and tell stories and “live over again” their days at Texas A&M. They add that it also gives current students a chance to spend time with the anniversary Class of 1962. The cost for the meal is $8.95.
The doors to Reed Arena will open at 5 p.m. and seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Parking information, including maps of West Campus, can be found by going here.
At each Muster ceremony around the world, a speaker will be followed by the “Roll Call For The Absent.” Names of those from that area who have died in the past year will be read, and as each name is called, a family member or friend will answer “Here,” and a candle will be lit.
Following the candle-lighting ceremony, the Ross Volunteer Company will march in to fire a rifle volley followed by a special arrangement of “Taps.” In addition, the ceremony also will include performances by the Singing Cadets and the Aggie Band.
A relatively new addition to the Muster tradition is the Muster Reflections Display. Its purpose is to more fully recognize the lives of the Aggies being honored by displaying personal items of the Roll Call honorees as a memorial to them. These items will be on display in the Rudder Exhibit Hall from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday (April 19-20). It will move to the MSC once it is open again and be on display there from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the day of Muster.
Muster was first held on June 26, 1883. Former students of Texas A&M, then called ex-cadets, were to gather and “…live over again our college days, the victories and defeats won and lost upon drill ground and classroom. Let every alumnus answer a roll call.”
Muster was held in Europe during World War I, where thousands of Aggies were serving. During World War II, Gen. George F. Moore, Texas A&M Class of 1908, was the commander of Fort Mills on Corregidor Island in the Philippines. He, along with 25 other Aggies on the island, held a Muster celebration on April 21, 1942. By May 6, the island had fallen to Japanese forces and all of those Aggies were either captured or killed.
The most famous Muster was held after the war in 1946, when Aggies who were present among the American armed forces on Corregidor once again held Muster on the island.
Transportation Services officials have announced that, in anticipation of greater visitor parking demand with Muster and the Memorial Student Center opening and additional events held on west campus, West Campus Garage is now available for visitor parking .
Visitors may park in any available space in West Campus Garage and pay the hourly rate as posted here. Visitors must pull a ticket to enter and then may pay before exiting at one of the three pay stations or in the exit lane by credit card only. Pay stations are located in the northeast corner of the garage on the lower level (nearest to MSC and passageway and accepting cash or credit), and in the southwest corner on the first level (nearest to Rec Center and accepting credit only). The pay in lane option is a new service which provides the customer quick and easy payment by credit card when exiting the garage.
For further information regarding visitor parking, visit here.