The campus Aggie Muster ceremony honored the memories of Aggies before a maximum-capacity crowd of around 13,000 in Reed Arena Tuesday.
Muster, said Student Body President Kyle Kelly, is about both considering the past and savoring the present.
“Through Muster we experience the spirit that can ne’er be told,” Kelly said in his speech. “The Roll Call for the Absent represents not just names, but stories and faces, each with a life to be remembered.”
This year’s Muster celebrated the 50th anniversary and reunion for members of the Class of 1965. Aggies around the world gathered in College Station to be part of the largest Muster ceremony and answer “here” for their fellow class members who have died.
Mike Tovey, Class of 1965, came to town from Phoenix with his wife Tuesday.
“It’s really amazing to see the whole class gathered here and I speak for everyone when I say we wouldn’t be anywhere else,” Tovey said. “This was my first time attending Muster in College Station since I was on campus 50 years ago.”
Distance from College Station did not hinder many former students from being part of the ceremony. Tovey said one man in his class flew all the way from Korea.
Vishal Kaushal, Class of 2013, tuned into his community’s Muster from Dallas, despite commitments at work.
“[Muster] conflicted with my work schedule, but this morning I got a message that one of my former underclassmen had passed away,” Kaushal said. “It made me realize that I needed to make this tradition a priority. It helps to have people by your side when someone important to you passes away.”
Biomedical sciences sophomore Mark Griffin attended Muster to answer “here” for his friend and fellow Corps of Cadets member, Thomas Bratcher, Class of 2017.
“Hearing Thomas [Bratcher’s] name at Muster was not only emotional, but it was also closure,” Griffin said. “Hearing all the things said at Muster and knowing what it represents made me realize this was my last goodbye to Thomas. Not only will he continue to live on in my memory but through Muster, he will always be a part of the Aggie family.”
U.S. Rep. and Muster speaker Will Hurd, Class of 1999, acted as student body president his senior year and led the A&M community through the Bonfire Collapse, one of the most trying times in the university’s history.
“The 12 students we lost in Bonfire were among the many names called at that year’s Muster,” Hurd said. “Despite seeing tradition being transformed into tragedy, it was inspiring to see the Aggie spirit manifest itself in the acts of compassion and selflessness.”
There’s no better way to think about what each of us should be doing in our own lives than to reflect on the lives of those who are no longer with us, Hurd said.
Finance sophomore Travis McClendon said Muster is not about mourning — it’s about celebrating those who not only passed, but also those who are here now.
“Even though you were here today for people you may not know, down the line, people you don’t know will be there for you,” McClendon said. “And that’s really something special. This tradition is part of the reason I chose A&M.”