Softly Call the Muster — Aggie Traditions Runs Deep

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Although not the first meeting, by 1922, those who love Texas Aggies began gathering each April 21 to remember fellow Aggies who’d died in the preceding year. Names are read aloud; the answer: “Here.” Gone, but never forgotten. That’s one of our prized traditions. This past weekend at Reed Arena, the Brazos County A&M Club honored our local residents among the total 1612 Aggies who passed away this past year.

The love and loyalty across the administration and membership of Texas A&M’s Association of Former Students has kept the tradition of remembering Aggies lives and legacies for now almost 100 years. Every Aggie fish learns about San Jacinto Day also celebrating Aggie Muster, if they didn’t grow up in an Aggie family.

Muster ceremonies, typically held in about 300 locations around the world, follow a sequence of events. A keynote speaker reminds us what it means to be an Aggie; each Muster speaker is a special invited guest each year. A 21-gun salute is held. A bugler plays taps. Together we remember.

This year is especially poignant, because my great-uncle, Manley Wright Jones, Jr., ’59, was remembered by the Williamson County A&M Club in Georgetown.

Wherever you are, the spirit of Aggieland is so overwhelming during this ceremony that your mind flashes back when friends, school, and Aggie sports filled your days and nights.

And you remember how special it is to be an Aggie as you hear the names read aloud, followed by the class year. One or more answers, “Here.”  Sometimes the names are well known, other names known only to their family. Yet, every life is remembered. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed with emotion during this solemn, important ceremony.

At Callaway-Jones, we offer our own unique ways we honor the life of your Aggie, in a way that reflects our own love for Texas A&M and all the traditions that make this school, as we believe—a national treasure in higher education.

When you first enroll at Texas A&M, whatever first name you were given at birth disappears. You are, for an entire year, known as “Fish” (whatever your last name is). Upperclassmen, if they address you, care only for the fact that you are a fish. Also, you get a new last name. It’s Class of ‘XX and those two numbers are the ones four years ahead of your present year. This year’s Aggie class is officially, Class of ’22.

And, in the case of my great-uncle Manley, who entered Texas A&M in 1955, he was Fish Jones, ’59. Although these beautiful bronze desk weights were not designed until much later, this is what his personal crest with class year looked like.

Texas A&M Desk Paper Weight

Following his graduation from A&M, my great-uncle had a long and distinguished career as an Army Green Beret, Special Forces Commander, and in Military Intelligence. He was an honored distinguished veteran whose service to his country earned him the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.

Here is his class ring; of course, his original, very worn Aggie ring was lost, so this is the replacement ring his wife Beverly ordered for him to wear, and he cherished it always.

Aggie Ring 59

At this year’s Aggie Muster in Williamson Country, Manley Wright Jones, Jr.’s name was read aloud, and the answer was given “Here.” When Texas Aggies bid farewell to our loved ones they are forever part of our family as well as the Texas A&M Former Students family. The tradition, honor and pageantry we saw across Aggie Muster in our community included recognizing former First Lady Barbara Bush.

On Saturday, April 21, Aggie Muster Day, our entire nation was focused on Bryan-College Station and Texas A&M, because it was here that the Bush family had decided to make the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum the final resting place for the former President, First Lady, and their daughter, Robin Bush.

Our friend and Texas Aggie Mike Connor attended the Brazos County A&M Club Muster on campus which approximately 800 people attended, while others from around the state and nation were in Reed Arena for their Muster service. Mike’s beloved wife, Diana, passed away on September 1, 2017, the most recent of local friends and faithful supporters of the Aggies, until the death of Mrs. Barbara Bush on April 19.

Photo from Mike Connor’s Facebook page

Love of the history and tradition of Texas A&M University runs deep. We appreciate the solemn and respectful manner in which Texas Aggies pay honor and tribute to those whose lives have been lost each year. Similarly, we honor your Aggies with our custom tributes and services, according to special options that we offer.

May we be ever mindful of the ways we wish to tell our friends goodbye. We at Callaway-Jones are an Aggie family as well as a family of funeral directors with a locally owned business. Please call or come by to visit with us about preplanning final arrangements for your Aggie.

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