At Muster, Aggies around the world gather to remember those who died during the previous year, bringing light to the darkness of their passing.
This year, over 300 Muster ceremonies were held worldwide to remember Aggies and those close to the A&M community who died, including former President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush. The 2019 Campus Muster was held in Reed Arena at 7 p.m. on Monday.
Dwight A. Robyler, Class of 1984, was the Muster speaker for the campus ceremony. Roblyer said Muster is both a joyous celebration and a somber remembrance, pointing to the locations around the world where two or more Aggies have gathered and looking back at historical events tied to the tradition.
“To Muster means to assemble,” Roblyer said. “‘Sergeant, muster the troops’ would have been a common order a number of years ago. However, the title of tonight’s event can also be used in the sense of mustering courage. Both of these meanings are appropriate on this day at this assembly — to revel and to remember all they love about Texas A&M and the Aggie family.”
Much of Robyler’s speech focused on living with compassion, as he concluded that the most important resource at A&M is the people within it. He pointed out the risks of suicide for students, staff and faculty, in addition to the rising number of students who skip meals or go hungry and first generation students who often face financial risks or insecurities.
“Our existing and potential relationships hold tremendous power,” Robyler said. “Often all that is needed to ignite this potential is one compassionate word or action — an answer to the needs of those around us.”
Connor Michels, mechanical engineering senior and Muster Committee speaker liaison, said there is a long process for picking the speaker. The individual is chosen based on ability to speak and relate to a crowd, proximity to College Station and embodiment of the core values. In addition to having the skills to teach over 650 students, Michels said Roblyer has many other admirable characteristics.
“He’s also just an incredibly humble guy,” Michels said. “He always likes to call himself an ordinary person even though he’s lived an extraordinary life with so many different experiences he’s been able to have. He just takes everything he’s ever given very humbly, so his perspective comes from the common Ag here in the room.”
Helena Shakesby, human resources management graduate student and Muster Committee Chair, said the ceremony is a time to recognize the Aggie family, a common sentiment of the evening. When choosing A&M as a school, Shakesby said there is also a sense of joining a community that will support you, even after death.
“It is the tangible embodiment of the Aggie Spirit and what it means to be a member of the Aggie family,” Shakesby said. “I think that it is our privilege as Aggies to acknowledge loss in such a beautiful way.”
A&M Regent Bill Mahomes, Class of 1969, was one of many celebrating the 50th reunion during the Muster Ceremony. He said it is a good time to connect with classmates and see friends.
“We are the only school I know that recognizes the deceased in this way, so it means a lot to me; it always has since school,” Mahomes said. “I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but it means a lot to me.”
Kathryn Greenwade, vice president for communications and human resources at The Association of Former Students, spoke to the Brown County A&M Club Muster, which was also held on Monday.
“Muster to me is our greatest tradition at A&M because it’s a tradition that emphasizes the value of each and every Aggie,” Greenwade said. “It’s a chance for us to come together and remember the good fortune that we have of being Texas Aggies and also the obligations that come with that to live out our core values and to be there for our fellow Aggies.”