Muster Honors Fallen Aggies

By: Meredith Stancik Email
By: Meredith Stancik Email

It is Texas A&M University's most solemn and most visible tradition. Over 12,000 people were expected to gather Monday night for Muster.

The event is in honor of the Aggies who have died over the past year.

The ceremony included speakers, with the main address by John A. Adams, holder of three degrees from Texas A&M and author of several books on Aggie history, including "Softly Call the Muster."

The speakers were followed by the "Roll Call For The Absent." Names of those who have died in the past year will be read, and as each name is called, a family member or friend answered "Here" and a candle was lit.

The Ross Volunteer Company then marched in to fire a rifle volley followed by a special arrangement of "Taps." The evening also included performances by the Singing Cadets and the Aggie Band.

During the day Monday, other events were held in honor of Muster. The "Reflections" display in the Memorial Student Center Flag Room area was started in 2003.

Many families of Aggies who have died over the past year, set up displays. The Stewart family was only one.

You may remember Tynesha Stewart. She was an Aggie freshman who was brutally murdered last year in Houston. Like other families the Stewart family came to Texas A&M to make sure their child's memory lives on.

"Losing her was hard for me so I know it was awful for you," Sarah Ward wrote in Tynesha Stewart's memory book. "God be with you as I think and pray for you often."

Ward met Stewart when the two were freshman.

"She was one of the funniest people I have ever met," Ward said. "She wasn't afraid to tell you exactly what she thought. She was so funny that I could not be around her and not laugh."

Stewart was murdered last March in Houston. Police charged her ex-boyfriend with the crime.

Although a year has passed since her death, the memories of the young co-ed, are alive.

"She was always saying mama I'm going to be a star," Stewart's mom Gayle Shields said. "Today it reflects that she is a star."

Shields came to Texas A&M so that others wouldn't forget her daughter.

"She will never, never die," Shields said. "She will will always be here."

Like Gayle, hundreds of others walked through the Memorial Student Center remembering Aggies, young and old, who died this year.

For those suffering the most, the displays brought peace.

"It's like family," Shields said. "Everybody is feeling the same thing. Everybody is feeling the same pain and the same hurt and the same sense of loss."

Aggies will hold approximately 325 Muster ceremonies around the world on Monday, including four in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, with the largest ceremony being held on the Texas A&M University campus.

This year the Muster list includes five military Aggies killed in action in the last year. They are Second Lt. Peter Burks '03, killed Nov. 14; Private First Class William Edwards '06, killed on Aug. 11; Army Spc. Daniel Gomez '08, killed on July 18; First Lt. Jeremy Ray '04, killed Dec. 20; and Spc. Christopher J. West '04, killed Feb. 4. All died in Iraq.

Many former students return to campus for Muster, among them those who graduated 50 years before who hold a special class reunion. This year it will be Texas A&M's Class of 1958.

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