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

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

The Battalion

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Members of the 2023-2024 Aggie Muster Committee pose outside the Jack K. Williams Administration Building. (Photo courtesy of Aggie Muster Committee)
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Muster Speaker nominations open

Photo by Robert O’Brien

Lieutenant Colonel Tyson Voelkel, Class of 1996, speaks at Muster in Reed Arena on Friday, April 21, 2023.

The nomination form for Muster speakers opened Wednesday, Nov. 8 for the April 21, 2024 Muster ceremony.
Society, ethics and law junior Abigail Kerckhoff, whose main role is directing and facilitating the speaker selection process, said Muster serves to honor Aggies who have passed away this past year, and the keynote speaker is an integral part of that process.
“It’s said, ‘If there’s an Aggie within 100 miles of you, you’re called to come together,’” Kerckhoff said.
Aerospace engineering fifth-year Ryan Odneal serves in the Muster Committee as speaker liaison and said it looks for four goals when choosing a speaker.
“The Muster speaker serves to give words to the [Aggie] Spirit in a speech that bridges the gap between current and former students, empathizes with families in both grief and celebration, centers the Aggie family on a common purpose and impels others to live out the Aggie Core Values,” Odneal said.
Previous speakers include Tyson Voelkel, the CEO of the Texas A&M Foundation, Mark A. Welsh, the now-president of A&M, and Michael Moseley, a former chief of staff for the U.S. Air Force. The tradition extends back decades, Kerckhoff said, with former speakers also including former-U.S President Dwight D. Eisenhower after World War II.
“Our nomination form is available on the Muster website, as well as on our social media [accounts],” Kerckhoff said.
Odneal said that during the ceremony, they are not looking to give a lecture on what the Aggie Spirit is — instead, the committee hopes to articulate the feeling in the room on April 21.
Muster originated as a field day where students skipped class in the 19th century, Kerckhoff said. From there, she said it transitioned into a memorial as former students from A&M, which was originally a complete military college, began passing away in war.
“Ultimately, at 7 p.m. in Reed Arena [on April 21], we have the Muster ceremony, where we read a list of names of the Aggies who have passed away,” Kerckhoff said. “Their family members light a candle when their loved one’s name is called, and then we answer, ‘Here’ to recognize that Aggie is here with us in spirit.”
Muster ceremonies similar to the one at Reed Arena take place around the world on April 21, not just on campus, Kerckhoff said.
“Last year, when I woke up for the flag-raising ceremony … we saw that Italy had already had their Muster,” Kerckhoff said.
Kerckhoff said they want more Aggies to participate in Muster, and one way they can do that is by nominating a speaker.
“I’ve always loved A&M, but I don’t really feel like I truly understood the Aggie spirit until I attended Muster,” Kerckhoff said. “I feel like that was the first time I knew I loved this place, but I think that was the first time I realized A&M loves you back as a student. You’re a part of something so much bigger than yourself.”
Odneal said their goal is to have everyone be seen, no matter who they are.
“We want the speaker to empathize with them — to say, ‘Hey, we’re here. We see you, and we’re going to remember your loved ones,’” Odneal said.

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