Campus Life

Everything You Need To Know About Aggie Muster

Texas A&M will hold its most solemn tradition Friday, April 21.
By Jacob Svetz, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing & Communications April 20, 2023

People in a darkened room hold candles that illuminate their faces
Aggie Muster on April 21, 2022.

Abbey Santoro/Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications

 

What is Aggie Muster?

Aggie Muster is one of Texas A&M University’s most solemn and most visible traditions. On April 21 each year, current and former students gather to honor and celebrate members of the Aggie family who have passed away in the past year. Hundreds of Muster ceremonies take place around the world each year. Every Muster looks a little different. Muster can be as simple as two Aggies meeting for a meal, or as formal as the Campus Muster that annually fills Reed Arena. 

As one famous saying goes, “If there is an Aggie within 100 miles of you, you are expected to get together, eat a little and live over the days you spent at the A&M College of Texas.”

Who is Aggie Muster for?

Muster is for every Aggie, anyone whose life has been impacted by an Aggie and anyone who would like a glimpse of the Aggie Spirit in its purest form.

What is the Roll Call for the Absent?

Names of Aggies who have passed away in the previous year are read, and as each name is called, a family member or friend will answer, “Here.” This response shows that Aggie is present in spirit. The list of names varies at each Muster worldwide.

Every year, The Association of Former Students livestreams a “Worldwide Roll Call for the Absent” where the name of every known Aggie who has passed in the previous year is read.

Every Aggie will have their name read at an Aggie Muster following their passing.

Why is Aggie Muster held on April 21?

In the early days of Texas A&M, April 21 was celebrated as the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, a Texas holiday that celebrates the state’s defeat of the Mexican Army. As part of the celebration in the 1890s, the Corps of Cadets was invited to portray the Mexican Army in a 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; they decided to continue the celebrations on campus in 1899. These celebrations would evolve into what we now know as Aggie Muster. 

a black-and-white photo showing a group of uniformed men gathered at the moth of a tunnel watching a man in the center speak from a podium
A photograph taken at the 1946 Muster on Corregidor.

Laura McKenzie/Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications



How did Muster begin?

Aggie Muster has its roots in the Pacific theater of World War II. In 1942, Gen. George F. Moore ‘08 had Maj. Tom Dooley ‘35 report the names of 24 Aggies who were defending the Pacific island of Corregidor from relentless attacks by the Japanese. 

“So, we had a roll call, and a muster is a roll call,” Dooley was quoted as saying. He sent word to one of the news correspondents reporting from the island, and the reporter wired the story back to the states where it was quickly embellished by some creative reporters. The story became a source of inspiration for a war-weary United States and solidified the tradition of Muster for years to come.

On April 21, 1946, Aggies returned to the island of Corregidor to celebrate the Aggie Spirit, the victory in the Pacific, and to remember the Aggies who were lost in World War II. The now-iconic Corregidor Muster photo was taken on this day.

When was the first official Aggie Muster?

The first formal Muster was held in 1943. By the next year, more than 600 Musters were held around the world. Among them was a student-led Muster at A&M — not the campus’ first San Jacinto Day celebration, but the first Aggie Muster on campus.

Where is my local Aggie Muster?

Every year, there are more than 300 Musters held worldwide on or near April 21. To find your local Muster, visit The Association of Former Students’ Find Your Muster page.

How do I get involved in my local Muster?

Local Musters are commemorative events held annually on April 21 by the Texas A&M community to honor and remember former students from that area who have passed away in the preceding year. These events can have a friendly and informal atmosphere, and volunteers often assist with various tasks such as setting up chairs, bringing flowers, handing out candles, managing social media or cleaning up after a potluck. The planning for these events typically starts more than a month in advance.

To find out if there is a local Muster event planned in your area, check the listings at tx.ag/Muster, which include contact information for Muster chairs. Alternatively, you can check with your nearest Texas A&M Club to see if a Muster is planned. If you are interested in hosting a Muster yourself, visit tx.ag/HostAMuster to learn more about the requirements and guidelines for hosting a successful event.

What is Campus Muster?

Campus Muster is an all-day celebration of the Aggie Spirit. The Corps of Cadets gather in Academic Plaza for a special flag-raising ceremony at sunrise. The 50-year reunion class is invited back to campus for a Camaraderie BBQ, to which the entire Texas A&M community is invited.

A table filled with memorabilia on display for Muster
Muster Reflections at Texas A&M University on April 18, 2022.

Jacob Svetz/Texas A&M Division of Marketing & Communications


Some families choose to temporarily loan memorabilia of their loved ones to the Aggie Muster Committee. These items are displayed in the Flag Room of the Memorial Student Center for Aggies to visit and learn about the lives of the honorees on the Campus Roll Call for the Absent. These Muster Reflections displays are on display until April 21 at noon.

At 7 p.m., thousands of Aggies gather at Reed Arena for the solemn Muster Ceremony. During the ceremony, the Singing Cadets and the Aggie Band perform, student leaders and the Texas A&M President address the crowd. Every year, a keynote speaker is invited to deliver a speech on the importance of Muster and the importance of the Aggie Family. Following the speech, the Roll Call for the Absent is read. As each name is called those present for that Aggie reply with a “Here,” and a candle is lit in their memory. Following the Roll Call for the Absent,  members of the Ross Volunteers fire a 21 gun salute, and buglers from the Aggie Band play a special arrangement of “Taps.” It is tradition for a representative of the 50-year reunion class to dismiss the Muster until the following year.

What do I wear to Campus Muster?

Campus Muster is a reverent occasion and those in attendance are asked to wear clothing that reflects the atmosphere. Darker colors, maroon, black and gray are encouraged.

Where do I park for Campus Muster?

Muster parking will be open Friday, April 21, from 5 p.m. to midnight.

Free parking will be available in Lot 100 A-F immediately next to Reed Arena, Lots 61, 74, 95, 97, 100J, 100M, and 104. Lot 102 is disabled parking only and 100G is reserved for honored guests.

Expect possible delays along the following routes:

  • George Bush Drive to Olsen Boulevard
  • Wellborn Road to Kimbrough Boulevard

How long does Campus Muster last?

Campus Muster typically lasts around two hours.

What time is Campus Muster?

Doors open at Reed Arena for Campus Muster at 5 p.m. The ceremony starts at 7 p.m. Reed Arena does fill up for Campus Muster, so all attendees are encouraged to arrive early.

Who is on the Campus Muster Roll Call for the Absent?

For a name to be listed on the Campus Muster Roll Call for the Absent, one of the following five criteria must be met: students who were currently enrolled at Texas A&M in College Station at the time of their passing, former students who are immediate family members of enrolled students, former students who died while serving on active military duty, current and recently retired or relocated faculty and staff who have worked on the College Station campus within the last four years, and members of the 50th year reunion class who have passed away in the last year.

An honoree’s name can be submitted for review by the Muster Committee for the Campus Roll Call for the Absent at the Aggie Muster website.

How can I add a name to the Roll Call for the Absent?

Aggies who have passed in the last year can be reported to the Association of Former Students. There is a cut-off date in mid-April for names to be added to the Roll Call for the Absent to allow the Association of Former Students to coordinate with Texas A&M Clubs around the world. Aggies who pass after this cut-off date will be added to the following year’s Roll Call for The Absent.

Addison Blakemore ’23, Muster Committee awareness executive; John Adams ’73, author of “Softly Call the Muster: The Evolution of the Aggie Tradition;” and Sue Owen ’94, digital communications manager for The Association of Former Students, contributed to this article. 

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