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Tradition. Traditions help keep the spirit alive at Texas A&M. In 1922, April 21 became the official day for Muster. You spend the day reminiscing about good times at A&M, but you also honor the fallen Aggies from the past year. Young and old. New members of the family. Those who fought in the world wars.  And everyone in between.

During roll call, a candle is lit for every name called. Someone responds, “Here” for him or her. I remember my first Muster. It was still distant to me. A friend next to me answered for one of his dad’s buddies. I respected the tradition, but it wasn’t quite real. I didn’t know anyone on the list.

I remember the first time I said, “Here.” Never did I imagine myself saying it so soon. The young man was in my geology class the previous year. He helped me during lab plenty of times. He was quiet. But I knew he was a good guy. He died that summer. It was a weird feeling.

The school year came and went, and then April 21 was here. I heard his name and felt the word come out of my mouth instantaneously. I didn’t think about it. It just happened. I didn’t cry. I didn’t feel sad. I was pensive. I began to think about all of the good things people said about the young man after his passing. I thought about how loud that “Here” was.

Sure, people at other schools may have a memorial or something for those they have lost, but can they hear that resonating “Here?” Can they look around at a packed arena and here silence just before a 21 gun salute? Can they take a few hours out of their time for current and former students who they did not even know personally?

Lately people have been talking about A&M changing, and losing its core values and traditions. But Muster is something that won’t ever change. As long as there are Aggies, each April we’ll get together. We’ll talk, eat, laugh, and honor those no longer with us. We ARE a family. Nothing can change that.

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