Muster is the Texas A&M tradition that forever unites the Aggies past with the Aggies present. It is Texas A&M’s most solemn and most visible tradition.
Muster was first held on June 26, 1883, when former students of Texas A&M gathered together to “...live over again our college days, the victories and defeats won and lost upon drill ground and classroom. Let every alumnus answer a roll call.” No matter where Aggies are, whether it is as few as two or as many as the thousands who gather on the university’s campus, they come together each April 21 for Muster.
Muster traces its roots back to “San Jacinto Day,” a Texas holiday that celebrates the state’s defeat of the Mexican Army in the battle of San Jacinto. As a part of the celebration in the 1890s, the Corps of Cadets was invited to play the Mexican Army in the reenactment of the Battle for Texas Independence. The State Guard played the Texans. However, since Aggies cannot stand to lose, the Aggies “rewrote history” and continually won the battles. In 1897, the Cadets were no longer invited to participate in the reenactment, but in 1899, the Cadets then decided to continue the celebrations on campus and held a San Jacinto Field Day on April 21.
During the World Wars, this tradition of meeting on April 21 evolved to include a memoriam for those who were absent. In World War I, Aggies met all over the trenches of Europe and at army posts all over America. The most famous Aggie Muster was held during World War II in 1942 on the small island of Corregidor in the Philippines. Major General George Moore, Class of 1908, led a group of recently commissioned Aggies in a moment to honor the valiant Aggies who had died, hold a yell practice, and sing the War Hymn with all their strength, all under heavy enemy fire.
The first campus Muster was held in Guion Hall in 1924, and Muster has been held on campus since. Campus Muster is an all-day affair that starts with a flag-raising ceremony at sunrise. The 50-year reunion class is invited back to campus for a Camaraderie BBQ where they share old Aggie “war stories” and current students tell new Aggie “war stories.”
At each Muster ceremony around the world, a speaker addresses the crowd before the “Roll Call for the Absent.” Names of those from that area who have died in the past year will be read, and as each name is called, a family member or friend will answer “Here” to show that Aggie is present in spirit. Then, a candle will be lit.
Following the ceremony on campus in Reed Arena — the largest Muster in the world — a rifle volley is fired and then a special arrangement of “Taps” is played.