Tuesday, April 21, 2009

softly call the muster

Back where I went to grad school, today is a very special - and solemn - day. Seriously.

Today is the day they call the muster. During my time there, I remember this day being a little more quiet and somber than other days, everyone mentally preparing for the evening's event, where the basketball arena would be dark and jam-packed with students and alumni, all gathered to honor their peers that had passed in the previous year. The ceremony was always a wonderful gesture, but when I moved to NEO, I realized that musters took place everywhere. I received an email from a representative of our local alumni group inviting me to a get-together at a local bbq joint, where a room had been rented out and a long table of displaced Texas Aggies were sharing a meal and memories of their time in Aggieland. At the end of it, the chapter president rose, everyone quieted, and the gentleman read aloud the names of all Aggies that had passed away in service of the US military and then Aggie alums from the NEO region. There was a moment of silence and then the fellowship resumed.

Moments like that one play out every year, all over the US. Here is a graphic some dude made up about Aggie Muster sites held a few years back:

They don't just have them in the US, though. A famous, proud, and sorrowful moment in Aggie history was in 1942 in the Phillipines at Corregidor Island, days before the fort there fell to enemy hands. The commanding officer, General George F. Moore, was an Aggie and convened a muster ceremony with all the other Aggie soldiers. An the ensuing battle, every one of those men was either captured or killed. Four years later, however, after the US troops retook the island, a new group of Aggies was there to hold another muster (see below).

Since then, Aggies have mustered just about every single place American troops have been placed in harm's way. That's not an accident, as Aggies are known to be particularly effective and passionate soldiers. General Patton is alleged to have once stated, as testament to the Aggie fighting spirit, "Give me an army of West Point graduates, and I'll win a battle. Give me a handful of Texas Aggies, and I'll win a war."

(Aggie Muster in Korea, 1953)

(Aggie Muster in Afghanistan)

(Aggie Muster in Iraq)

Today is the day the muster for these folks is called. I'm sorry I'll have to miss the dinner, but a recently forwarded email from one of the folks in my group here reminded me of the starkness of the event. I'll be sure to have a moment of silence for all those that have passed, on my own.

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