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The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Due to COVID-19, 2020’s Muster will be online

The+Fightin+Texas+Aggie+Band+played+The+Spirit+of+Aggieland+before+the+Roll+Call+for+the+Absent.
Photo by Meredith Seaver

The Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band played “The Spirit of Aggieland” before the Roll Call for the Absent.

Celebrated by thousands of Aggies throughout the world, Texas A&M’s time-honored tradition of remembering students who have passed away is called Muster.
Since its creation over a century ago, Muster has shifted in format to fit the needs of the times and this year is no exception. In order to cease the spread of COVID-19, the Muster Committee has accommodated the ceremony to be online during April 21.
Sport management senior and Muster Committee Chair Kaley Markos is no stranger to adapting historical traditions to new circumstances. Markos recalls that a month prior to her first campus Muster ceremony as a host, the Aggie Muster Committee advisor, Rusty Thompson, Class of 1985, passed away suddenly.
“His death sent massive shockwaves through the community,” Markos said. “Yet Muster, as always, lived on. The night of the ceremony, Rusty’s name was called and his daughter was overtaken with emotion. Her cries became even more pronounced and she was finding it hard to stand. But then, a Ross Volunteer placed his arms around her. He held her up as she said goodbye to her father. In that moment, the truth of the Aggie Spirit revealed itself to me.”
Even when the only constant was uncertainty, Aggie Muster still functioned to honor those who passed, Markos said. She said this year’s online Muster will also accomplish this unique feat of commemoration.
“This year, just like any other, our ability to hold each other up is not taken away because we cannot be together,” Markos said. “Rather, we can uplift the families of our fallen Aggies as we honor the most true and powerful spirit of Aggie Muster: remembrance. There is no singular way to Muster. Rather, its definition lies in the compiled spirit of all Aggies, past, present and future.”
As for communicating this online transition to the families of those being honored at this year’s Muster, Markos said various members of the committee have been in constant contact with the honored families, providing logistical updates in this new landscape.
“We hope to still provide as much of the tangible Muster experience to these families as possible,” Markos said. “We are working with the university and family members to collect photos that can still be transformed into a reflection display for each Aggie we are honoring. We want to provide all of our honored families a reverent memory of the Muster experience tied to the recognition of their loved one.”
Current students, such as communication senior Abby Read, learned of the change through email, and she said she is glad her favorite tradition can continue.
“I think it’s great that they are keeping up the tradition, no matter the format,” Read said. “There are thousands of Aggies every year who don’t get to come back to campus for this and are already doing their own good ways to honor our Muster Ags. It’s sad we can’t be there in person this year, but nevertheless important that we’re there in any capacity.”
Civil engineering senior and Muster awareness executive Sidney Watts said there is a historical precedent for remote Muster ceremonies, going back to the first formally recorded Muster event in 1942.
“In the tunnels of Corregidor, 25 Aggies were scattered across the island, unable to gather because they were needed to hold their defensive positions,” Watts said. “The initial Muster was conducted across the radio waves because a physical gathering was impossible. Even under those extreme circumstances, what mattered were the names on the roll call. They paused for a moment to acknowledge the Aggie Spirit.”
Watts relates the unconventionality of 1942s Muster observance to what will happen on April 21 via the committee’s virtual platform.
“Today, though we may not be able to gather in person, we gather in the same spirit as the Aggies of Corregidor,” Watts said. “Many feel isolated or disconnected from campus at this time, but Muster will remain an opportunity for us to pause and honor the legacies of the Aggies who have passed away in the previous year.”
Finally, for readers who value this Aggie custom and desire to help, Watts said the Committee would appreciate spreading the word about the ceremony and other features of the Muster celebration.
“Links to all of these ways to participate will be available through our website,” Watts said. “Our website and social media pages, along with the university’s social media accounts, will have more details and links as they become available leading up to April 21.”

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