It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything personal on this blog, but today I have a good excuse. Today is April 21st, which is significant for two reasons. First of all, it’s the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, which effectively ended the Texas revolution as General Sam Houston defeated Santa Anna and the Mexican army amid shouts of “Remember the Alamo!” As a tried and true Texan, this alone is reason for me to celebrate the day, but it also happens to be Aggie Muster. Muster is a tradition celebrated by all those connected with Texas A&M University where Aggies across the world are supposed to gather together, share fun stories of their time at A&M, and remember the Aggies who have passed away since the previous Muster. The highlight of Aggie Muster is the Roll Call for the Absent, during which the names of those fallen Aggies are called, and we answer “Here” to signify that they are with us in spirit, if not in body. After the Roll Call, a 21 gun salute is fired, and then there’s another Aggie tradition – Taps is played three times – once to the north, to the south, and to the west, but not to the east, because the sun will never rise on that Aggie again. *Every* fallen Aggie is celebrated at Muster, so someday when I die, Aggies will call out my name and answer “Here” for me, too.
One of the defining moments of my life was when I served as a Muster Host when I was a freshman at A&M. As a host, I was assigned one of the families of a fallen Aggie, and my duty was to show them where to go, what to do, and to tend to whatever they needed to make the experience as positive as possible for them. The family I was assigned was the family of Brandon Davis ’06, a fellow freshman who had died only a month beforehand. I was expecting them to be distraught, emotional, upset, and a host of other understandable emotions, but to my surprise they were happy, positive, and excited. They talked about how much Brandon had loved A&M, how Muster had been his favorite tradition, and how honored he would have been to have his name called out at the campus Muster. It was so inspiring and so life-changing to see this family, who had lost their son and brother far too early, celebrating his life rather than mourning it. I have been extremely lucky to never lose a loved one, but I hope that whenever that awful day comes, I can be as strong and brave and positive as the amazing Davis Family.
Today, even if you’re not an Aggie, take some time to remember the people in your life who have passed away. Call up someone who knew them and swap stories about the times you laughed together, your favorite memories of them, what you loved most about them, and the impact they had on your life. Light a candle for them, call out their name, and answer “Here.”
So, Happy Muster to all my fellow Ags, Happy Birthday to the Republic of Texas for all my fellow Texans, and Happy April 21st to everyone else. :) If you’d like to learn more about Muster, check out Wikipedia or the official Muster website.
In many lands and climes this April day, proud sons of Texas A&M unite.
Our loyalty to country, school, we pray, and seal our pact with bond of common might.
We live again those happy days of yore on campus, field, in classroom, dorm, at drill
Fond memory brings a sigh — but nothing more; now we are men and life’s a greater thrill,
Before we part and go upon our way, we pause to honor those we knew so well;
The old familiar faces we miss so much today left cherished recollections that time cannot dispel.
Softly call the Muster,
Let comrade answer, “Here!”
Their spirits hover ‘round us
As if to bring us cheer!
Mark them ‘present’ in our hearts,
We’ll meet some other day.
There is no death, but life eterne
For our old friends such as they.