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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggie Muster’s rich history spans 173 years of tradition

One-hundred and seventy three years ago, the Republic of Texas Army under Gen. Sam Houston overtook the Mexican Army under Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna in 18 minutes, winning independence for the new country.
Today, Aggies celebrate the landmark and commemorate their unity in the Aggie Family with Aggie Muster.
Aggie Muster began in 1883, when cadets from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas came together to remember their time in college. The field day events, which soon sprouted into an annual tradition, were originally set in June. In 1889, however, the day merged with San Jacinto Day as a mark of the Texas history behind the University.
Also in 1883, the program of events included a roll call for each Aggie present. Today, the Roll Call for the Absent is the centerpiece of Aggie Muster, which celebrates the Aggie Spirit in solemn remembrance of those lost.
“Being involved in Muster has really shown me the resilience and depth of the Aggie Spirit,” said Katharine Taylor, Muster Committee programs sub-chairwoman. “I have always heard stories about the lengths the Aggie Family will go to on behalf of a fellow Aggie, but through my involvement with Muster, I have discovered that Muster is such a length, a powerful one in which every single Aggie takes a part, because every single Aggie is honored.”
Since its humble beginnings in the late 1800s, Muster has evolved to include many traditions. Field day events dominated the day’s schedule at the beginning of its history. As a mark of the Texas history behind it, the day included a re-enactment of the Battle of San Jacinto. Cadets acting as the Mexican Army did not appreciate losing, however, and failed to properly re-enact the battle. In 1897, they were asked not to return to participate in the re-enactment.
The day’s activities were almost halted when, in 1903, President David Houston suggested canceling the event. About 300 cadets marched to the president’s house, inspiring him to reconsider his proposal. The event continued in Aggie history and become a staple in Aggie lore and tradition.
“There is no doubt that Muster is my favorite tradition. Being a third-generation Aggie, I have grown to respect this tradition more and more over the years,” said Christine Fisher, a senior nutritional science major. “Through personal loss and that of others, I have realized what an honor it is to be a part of such an amazing tradition – one that respects the lives of not only love ones but of people whom we will never meet.”
Tuesday begins with a reunion of the 50th anniversary class at the Camaraderie Barbeque. Current and former students can interact and share stories of time in Aggieland.
Tuesday evening, Aggies will gather at Reed Arena for Muster. This year, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will address the attendees.
During the Roll Call for the Absent, each name is read while someone answers for them and a candle is lit.
“My favorite part of the ceremony is the moment between the reading of the final name on the Roll Call for the Absent and the extinguishing of the candles because, in this moment, when you look down at the floor of Reed Arena, every single lighted candle has combined to create one formation,” Taylor said. “I will always consider this sight to be the overwhelming proof of the power of the spirit of the Aggie family.”
Muster has evolved much in 173 years since its inception.
“Aggie Muster started out as a field day and has been celebrated in many places like the lawn of the MSC, G. Rollie White and the Administration Building,” Bentley said. “But beyond the location, setting, ceremony, it still defines the Aggie Spirit. By keeping the tradition alive, we create Aggie history.”
Tuesday’s eventsReflections display in the MSC Flagroom.Class of 1959 reunion barbeque. Open to current and former students.Muster and Roll Call in Reed Arena.

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