This Thursday my favorite, and truthfully one of the few Aggie traditions I support, will take place on campus and throughout the world. The origins of Muster are listed here and the tradition asks that,
If there is an Aggie in one hundred miles of you, you are expected to get together, eat a little, and live over the days spent at the A&M college of Texas.
More specific though, Muster is a reflection upon those Aggies lost in the past year. Musters are held all over the world, with the largest of course taking place on the flagship campus in College Station. This year’s campus Muster speaker is former Head Football Coach RC Slocum, and I cannot wait to hear what he has prepared. But without a doubt the most humbling portion of Muster is the roll call. During this time, the names of departed Aggies are read aloud, with representatives of the deceased answering “here” for them and lighting a candle. At the end of roll call, a 21 gun salute is given, and “Silver Taps,” is played. More than just signifying the reverence for the departed by their friends and family, the ceremony is a truly awe inspiring representation of the Aggie Network, and a reminder of the familial possibility that exists with being a student of Texas A&M. This year’s campus roll call features class members as far back as 1943, and the idea that someone will be there to answer for them is both incredible, and thought provoking. Each year Muster subtly whispers to its attendees, “when your name is called, who will answer?”
There is an old quote that states, “They say we die twice, once, when you stop breathing, and again when someone mentions your name for the last time.”
For myself, the answer to that question can change as often as the seasons. There was a time when I could confidently proclaim at least a dozen people I thought would take on the task of answering for me during roll call. These days I believe there are maybe six or so. Were I to include family members in this estimate the number would be significantly greater, but if we are speaking purely of non familial relationships I have cultivated on my own, I struggle to find close to ten. Sure, there are vastly more than ten people who would be affected by my sudden departure, that is evidenced by the astonishing amount of Facebook wall posts I receive each birthday, despite my reclusive existence on social media. But I’m not talking about a 30 second message typed more for the alleviation of one’s own conscience than actual genuine intent to extend a sincere message. I’m talking about standing before dozens upon dozens of people purely because you feel it’s not yet time for me to be forgotten from this world. There is an old quote that states, “They say we die twice, once, when we stop breathing, and again when someone mentions your name for the last time.” As a dabbling amateur writer, this notion is terrifying, for it is writing that I use as my attempt at immortality, at preservation through the written word. Every letter I’ve ever sent, every essay I’ve ever submitted, all the posts I’ll never finish are all satellites scattered to the wind in the hope that not only might I gain a better understanding and grasp of myself and my existence, but that years from now someone might stumble upon of these little beacons and perceive the person I so poorly present to the world outside of a page.
If we were to call our own Muster, how many would meet to share positive experiences?
Who, then, would I expect to answer my call? Or better yet, who would I want to answer it? When my time comes who can I expect to beat back the reaper’s second coming, to insure that I still exist to the world. Certainly there are those I wish were still candidates, people I regret casting out of my life due to my own proclivity for self destruction. Those on the list now are not guaranteed. Their only continuation resides in the hope that I’ve learned from all the bridges I’ve burned, and will sew selflessness and endearment into my present relationships, as opposed to selfishness and malice, as I too often injected into former connections. Indeed, if we were to call our own Muster, where the topic was ourselves rather than Texas A&M, how many would meet to share positive experiences? Had I been more thoughtful of this would those in my corner be larger? Or would time prove to be a greater wedge of disconnection than any sort of severance I am capable of. In any case, this is the time of year when I am most reflective of the legacy I’ve left this world. Aggie Muster reminds me that every one we meet is a potential roll caller. Someone to carry us past our existence on Earth, whether it be positive or negative. Until now I believe I have created far more negative than positive stories, and it is for that reason I hope I don’t make the roll call for quite some time. Hopefully, when my name does appear, it’ll be more than just family obligations answering “here.” Hopefully I’ll have had time to tip the scales, and create a story people will want to share their character role in. Hopefully, this and every Aggie Muster will remind not just me that an answered call is about more than just popularity, it’s about creating a legacy that those around you will feel deserves to continue long after your passing. That who you were and what you did is still necessary to the world, and that you still have something to give even after you’ve given your body.