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 Monday (April 21), including ceremonies at military bases in Afghanistan, 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. Monday in Reed Arena, they come together each April 21 for Muster.
Among those being honored at the campus Muster ceremony is Lt. Col. Todd J. Clark, Cavalry, U.S. Army, who was killed June 8, 2013 in Afghanistan. While at Texas A&M, he was a member of the Corps of Cadets and received a bachelor’s degree in dairy science in 1995. For more about Clark, see https://www.aggienetwork.com/silver-taps/134848/todd-clark-94/.
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, including five in Afghanistan. A map showing the locations of the off-campus Musters is at http://www.aggienetwork.com/muster/search.aspx.
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 Youngkin, a 1969 Texas A&M graduate, will be the speaker at the campus Muster ceremony. He served as president of the Association of Former Students in 1991, president of the Former Yell Leaders Association in 2000 and he and his wife Marilyn were named Texas A&M Parents of the Year for 2000-2001. He is a former member of the Board of Trustees of the 12th Man Foundation and is currently a member of the President’s Blue Ribbon Panel of the Corps of Cadets and was inducted into the Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor for 2014.
For more about Youngkin, go to http://muster.tamu.edu/speaker. 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 1964.
Muster activities begin with a 7 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 on the lawn of the Sanders Corps Center, and the entertainment includes several student groups. The cost of the meal is $10. For more information, go to http://muster.tamu.edu/node/62.
Organizers say this is an opportunity 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 1964.
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 to http://transport.tamu.edu/.
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 April 15 through April 21.
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. For more on the history of Muster, go to http://muster.tamu.edu/history.
For more information about Muster, including a list of the “Roll Call For The Absent” and Muster sites, see The Association of Former Students website at: http://www.aggienetwork.com/muster/ or http://muster.tamu.edu/ or call (979) 845-7514.