In a day of celebration, camaraderie and remembrance, the 2016 Campus Muster Ceremony will take place Thursday in Reed Arena at 7 p.m.

Aggie Muster is a yearly tradition that calls Aggies around the world to gather together, share memories from their time on campus and to remember comrades who died in the past year.  About 15,000 Aggies and visitors are expected to gather in Reed Arena Thursday evening in a candlelit ceremony to remember current and former students who have died since April 21, 2015.

A flag-raising ceremony at 7 a.m. will kick off campus Muster’s activities. The Aggie Class of 1966 is invited back to Texas A&M as the 50-year Muster reunion class, and current students are invited to share “good bull” stories about campus events with reunion class members at the Camaraderie Barbeque at Kyle Field’s Northeast Plaza from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Campus Muster ceremony begins at 7 p.m. in Reed Arena. R.C. Slocum, Texas A&M’s winningest football coach and the coach during the 1999 Aggie Bonfire collapse, will deliver a keynote address before the Roll Call for the Absent. During Roll Call, the names of Aggies with ties to campus who have died since the 2015 Muster — including current students and deceased members of the 50 year reunion class — are read.

165 names are listed on the Roll Call at time of press. Any Aggie or visitor who knew the person called, who shares their class year or who feels inclined may answer “here” when the name is read aloud to symbolize the Aggie’s presence remains as part of the Aggie family. Musters held worldwide conduct similar ceremonies to honor deceased Aggies in their communities.

The Muster Reflections Display will be open to visitors in the MSC Flag Room to serve as a living memorial to those Aggies listed on the Roll Call. About 80 Aggies have displays set up by their families and loved ones that feature photographs and personal items to convey to viewers an idea of who they were as individuals.

Josiah Bezet, Muster Committee chair, said the Roll Call allows Aggies to honor, celebrate and reflect on the lives of the absent.

“I’ve known some people personally on the Roll Call every year,” Bezet said. “They’re unable to answer ‘here’ for themselves and whether it was a diehard Aggie or someone who barely bought into the traditions at A&M, Muster is the equalizer of all that. They give the exact same respect and honor to every Aggie, regardless of background or heritage or what they did while they were on campus. It gives respect to every single person in the exact same light.”

Marikit Tomlinson, Muster awareness subchair, said April 21 acts as a unifier for Aggies and a time to stand together in support as a family.

“A man from the [reunion] class excitedly grabbed me and took me over to a display,” Tomlinson said, describing a memory about Muster. “The reunion member asked me to read the date on the cover of an A&M versus Bama Cotton Bowl game. It was 1967. In response, he said, ‘I knew it. I remember that game. Me and another Aggie listened to the whole thing over the radio in a foxhole in Vietnam.’ It is just crazy how Muster can bring back a surge of memories that can be shared across our Aggie family regardless of generation.”

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