If there is one word that comes to mind when thinking about Texas A&M University it would be tradition. I have not seen or heard of another school that holds this particular trait as close to their hearts as we do. For incoming freshmen it can sometimes be overwhelming to discover all that there is to learn. Don't fret, we have a breakdown of the most important traditions to know right here!
Here in Texas, football is king. So with football season only a few weeks away, the 12th Man is gearing up for a very important season of Aggie Football. Who is the 12th Man? Well we are. The entire student body is collectively known as the 12th Man because of one man, E. King Gill. In 1922, Texas A&M was playing Centre College under the leadership of head coach Dana X. Bible. In the first half the Aggies had so many men injured that they only had 11 able-bodied players. Bible called out into the crowd for the student E. King Gill to suit up in case he was needed in the game. Although he never played, he was the last man- the 12th man- standing on the Aggies sideline. He would later say, "I simply stood by in case my team needed me." That is why we are called the 12th Man, and why as students we do not sit down at football games.
Another tradition related to football would be Midnight Yell. It is held in Kyle Field at midnight the night before a home football game. A&M does not have cheers, we have yells. So instead of a team of cheerleaders, there are five yell leaders that lead the band along with current and former students with yells dating back to the early days of the institution. You listen to stories told by the yell leaders about how A&M will beat the opposing team the next day, then end the night with the "Aggie War Hymn"! There is also a special moment when the lights go out and you can, "mug down"(make out), with your date. If you do not have a date to midnight yell, you can bring a lighter and kiss a person you find in the dark!
Yell leaders are a team of upperclassmen — three seniors and two juniors — elected each year by the student body.The tradition of yell leaders dates back to 1907 when Texas A&M was still an all-male institution. Ladies were invited to campus to attend football games, and during one game, the upperclassmen ordered the freshmen to find a way to entertain their guests. The freshmen found white coveralls and began leading the crowd in yells. They had so much fun and received so much attention from the ladies that it was decided that only upperclassmen would be allowed to participate in leading yells in the future.
To some Aggies getting their ring is sometimes more special to them than getting their diploma! You have to earn your ring academically by achieving 90 hours and by being in good standing with the university. The design of the ring has been the same since 1894. Nothing on the ring has changed, except when the university's name changed to Texas A&M University in 1963. The ring is recognized around the world and is a students main link to the Aggie Network.
(I was very happy when I finally got my ring!)
One of the most honored traditions here at A&M is Silver Taps. Silver Taps is held for a graduate or undergraduate student who passes away while enrolled at A&M. This final tribute is held the first Tuesday of the month when a student has passed away the previous month. It started back in 1898 and is currently held in Academic Plaza. On the day of Silver Taps, a small card with the deceased students name, class, major, and date of birth is placed as a notice at the base of the academic flagpole, in addition to the memorial located behind the flagpole. Around 10:15 that night, the lights are extinguished and hymns chime from Albritton Tower. Students silently gather at the statue of Lawrence Sullivan Ross. At 10:30pm, the Ross Volunteer Firing Squad marches into the plaza and fires three rifle volleys. Buglers then play a special rendition of Silver Taps by Colonel Richard Dunn. Taps is played three times from the dome of the Academic Building: once to the north, south, and west. It is not played to the east because the sun will never rise on that Aggie again. After the buglers play, the students silently return to their homes.
Held every year on since 1883, Muster is the most known and most solemn of A&M's traditions. The first Muster was held on June 26, 1883, when some former students gathered 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." Now, wherever Aggies are, whether it is just two, or thousands, they gather on April 21st every year for Muster. Here on campus, Muster is held in Reed Arena where there is a speaker and the a "Roll Call For The Absent". That is the list of names of Aggies who have died within the past year. As each name is read, a family member or friend will answer "Here" to show that Aggie is present in spirit, a candle is then lit. After all the names have been called a rifle volley is fired and a special arrangement of "Taps" is played.
As I am about to embark on my senior year, I reflect on all the traditions that I participated in and am saddened that it is all almost over. Although graduating will be bittersweet, I can not wait to come back as a former student and relive all these amazing traditions once again.