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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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Let comrade answer ‘here’

 
 

It’s a spot of green in the arid, barren desert, providing comfort in the harshest of environments and bearing a striking resemblance to Texas A&M’s Century Tree.
The Sidra tree, an icon in Qatari history and culture, is also a living symbol of the Aggie Spirit worldwide – representing solidarity and determination to those at A&M at Qatar.
More than 8,000 miles away from College Station, Aggies in Qatar will gather Friday to remember their fallen peers.
Those remembered connect 93 years of A&M’s history, from the Class of 1916 to the Class of 2009, according to the Association of Former Students’ 2006 Muster Roll Call.
“You may not recognize the names on the Roll Call tonight,” wrote Mona Al-Maadeed, Class of 1998, in her keynote speech for TAMUQ’s Muster ceremony. “As a name is called we will answer ‘here’ to commemorate their important part of our Aggie Family … The Aggie Spirit is the same, no matter if you are in College Station or Qatar.”
Al-Maadeed, the first Qatari to attend A&M, received her master’s degree in statistics and is a senior business planner at Qatar Petroleum.
“Texas Aggies’ devotion, loyalty and honor span three centuries and have spread around the globe: from the first class of students in 1876, who attended classes in one building in the middle of the prairie, to 2006, when the first classes of Texas A&M at Qatar attend classes in one building in the middle of the desert,” she wrote.
Qatar’s 2006 Muster ceremony is monumental because it is completely student run.
“This is an important milestone for us,” said Desi Burnes Porter. “We taught students the traditions, but this is them really embracing them as their own.”
The Aggies will have a live feed from College Station, where a Corps member will play Silver Taps for them, said Porter, the public affairs communications coordinator at TAMUQ.
In his maroon T-shirt and jeans, Vashir Sinno says he found the TAMUQ campus, but the Aggie Spirit found him. Sinno, a freshman petroleum engineer from Lebanon, will attend his first Muster Friday.
“What it means to me – it’s a connection between Aggies passed away and present Aggies,” he said. “It shows the Aggie Spirit.”
History The roots of Muster were planted in June 1883, when Aggies gathered together to relive their college days.
“Let every alumni answer a roll call,” wrote a former student.
In 1922, April 21 became a day of events for Aggies, and annual Musters began, according to Traditions Council.
“If there is an A&M man in 100 miles of you, you are expected to get together, eat a little and live over the days you spent at the A&M College of Texas,” an Aggie wrote in March 1923.
In 1942, Aggie Muster was recognized internationally when 25 men, led by Gen. George Moore, Class of 1908, conducted a Muster during the Japanese Siege of the Philippine island of Corregidor – knowing their names could soon be on the roll call list.
Retired Army Col. Thomas Dooley, who told the world the story of Texas A&M’s 1942 Muster on Corregidor, will be honored this year. Dooley, Class of 1935, died on March 26 at 92 years old, following a long illness.
Dooley sent out his story about the Muster just days before the island fell to Japanese forces. The story spread like wildfire though the nation and became a rallying cry for U.S. forces. That small group of Aggies on an outpost during World War II inspired modern-day A&M Muster ceremonies.
Now, Muster is celebrated in more than 400 places worldwide. The largest ceremony is in College Station.
Muster 2006
Muster is the most sacred of A&M’s traditions, said keynote speaker Bill Carter.
Carter, Class of 1969, received a degree in agricultural economics from A&M and was a distinguished military graduate and student body president.
“Tomorrow night I’ll be answering ‘here’ for my roommate Ray Dillon, Class of ’69 – my roommate my junior and senior year,” Carter said. “I know from my own experience that sometime in the future I would be answering ‘here’ for someone close to me.”
Carter said his speech will focus on the Aggie tradition of serving others, and his views about the student body.
Muster preparation is a yearlong process, planed and organized by only 23 students.
“It’s really small, but it’s nice in that respect because you really feel like you’ve contributed to something,” said Muster Committee Chair Rorey Walsh.
Walsh, a senior political science major, said her favorite traditions are Fish Camp and Muster; one begins the A&M experience, and one completes it, she said.
“My favorite thing to witness, and I witnessed this last year, is seeing families walk into Reed not knowing what to expect and watching them transition throughout the evening,” Walsh said. “This tradition gives them something else that nothing else will give them for their loved one, and you really feel like we as a University gave them something back, even just for a moment.”Muster attendance has stayed steady over the years, Walsh said.
“We usually fill Reed Arena to capacity – although I’m of the opinion if we can fill Kyle Field on a Saturday, we can do it for Muster,” she said.
Reed Arena holds 12,500 people; Kyle Field holds 82,600.
Muster events begin at 7:05 a.m. Friday with a flag raising ceremony in Academic Plaza. A reflections display will be in the Memorial Student Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“The reflections display really allows students to personify who the loved one was,” Walsh said. “It gives people an idea of who they were so they’re no longer just a name on the roll call.”
There is a barbeque in Academic Plaza, and doors to Reed Arena open at 5 p.m. The ceremony begins at 7 p.m., with a speaker, poems and roll call with candle lighting ceremony.
“I feel like if you’re at A&M and you haven’t gone to Muster, then you really haven’t had a full A&M experience,” Walsh said.

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