Everyone at A&M always talks about our traditions, but one of them has taken on a whole new meaning now that it has personally applied to me.

Muster is a tradition that, each year on April 21, honors any Aggie anywhere in the world who passed away that year. Normally, there are Musters held all over the world, honoring local Aggies that have passed on, from the largest one on campus, to over 300 locations worldwide.

The most important part of the tradition is called the ‘Roll Call for the Absent,’ where the names of all of the Aggies who passed away in the previous year are read out. And anyone that knew that Aggie answer’s ‘here’ to show that even though they’ve passed on, they’ll always be part of the Aggie family.

This year, one of those names called was my grandfather, William O’Connor III, class of 1950, who passed away in late 2019. He was the most redass (a term for someone that really shows their Aggie spirit) Aggie I have ever known, so getting to honor him in Muster was a really special moment for me.

Social distancing has changed a lot of events and memories that we may make together, but Tuesday, I saw it open up a special tradition to the world when, for the first time, Aggies around the world were able to tuned in at the same time for the campus Muster ceremony.

People I know who would not have attended the campus Muster ceremony were able to watch from home and say “here” when my grandfather’s name was called, something they would not have been able to do otherwise.

It was a really special time full of camaraderie and love. The Muster Committee did a great job of honoring those whose names were called, and at the end of the night, you could see Reed Arena lit up with candles spelling “Here”. Even though we were not all present physically at the ceremony, I felt the Aggie family coming together as I watched people say here on the website and honor those who could not say “here” themselves.

There has been a lot of change in this time, and Tuesday, I saw the change really bring out the best in the school that I get to call home. I have been grateful for my last 6 years at A&M, and as I enter my last year at A&M, I am grateful that I get to be a part of the Aggie family forever.

Last night showed me that no matter where we go, we are always Aggies, and we will always be a part of something bigger than ourselves.