Muster, Texas A&M University’s annual solemn tradition — and one of its most visible — will be held at more than 300 sites around the world Sunday (April 21), including ceremonies at military bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea and Germany – 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. Sunday in Reed Arena, they come together each April 21 for Muster.
Among those being honored at the campus Muster ceremony are four Aggie service members who died while on active duty. They are Lt. Col. Roy Tisdale, Class of 1992, U.S. Army, who died June 28, 2012; Dario Lorenzetti, Class of 1992, U.S. State Department, who died Oct. 13, 2012; Staff Sgt. Jacob Woo, Class of 2007, U.S. Army, who died March 2, 2013; and Spc. Graham Woody, Class of 2008, U.S. Army, who died April 5, 2013.
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 more than 300 Muster ceremonies are currently scheduled on Sunday, including five in Afghanistan, two in South Korea and one in Germany. Although not all at military bases in Iraq have notified The Association of Former Students’ Muster planners, it is known several are planned there. 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 students making the decision of whom to invite as speaker.
This year, Bill Jones, a 1981 Texas A&M graduate and chairman emeritus of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, will be the speaker at the campus Muster ceremony. Jones, founder and principal of The Jones Firm, a public law and government relations firm in Austin and co-managing founder of AFCI Texas, LLC, a used nuclear fuel storage start-up, served on The Texas A&M System Board of Regents from 2003 to 2011 and was chairman of the board from 2007 to 2009.
Jones has long been active in service to Texas A&M and honored for his accomplishments. He was named the 2010 Texas Aggie Bar Association Lawyer of the Year and served on the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets Development Council Advisory Panel.
For more about Jones, go here. The site also contains a list of past campus muster speakers such as Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1946), Aggie Medal of Honor recipient Eli Whitely (1962) and E. King Gill, the Aggie who started the 12th Man tradition (1964).
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 1963.
Muster 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 Simpson Drill Field, and the entertainment includes the Fish Drill Team, Fade 2 Black, Aggie Wranglers, Apotheosis, the Kappa Pickers, 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 1963. The cost for the meal is $10. Dining dollars, cash and credit cards will all be accepted.
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 at the campus Muster, 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 MSC Flag Room from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday (April 19-20) and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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.