For the past 25 years, Ben Welch hasn’t missed speaking at a Muster ceremony — from small groups in rural Texas where they’re in blue jeans and eating barbecue, to New York City where the group looks like they just walked straight out of GQ magazine.
“What I love about them is there’s a big variation in the demographics that attend,” Welch said. “No matter the age or demographic, the love for A&M and the devotion to our university is the same anywhere in the world.”
Welch is the keynote speaker at the Brazos County A&M Club’s Muster ceremony on Sunday — one of several gatherings for the sacred and time-honored Texas A&M tradition that honors Aggies who have passed and renews the bonds of fellow Aggies.
Brazos County A&M Club’s Muster
More than 700 people are expected to gather at the Memorial Student Center at 5:30 p.m. Sunday for the Brazos County A&M Club’s ceremony.
There will be a Roll Call for The Absent that will include all Brazos County Aggies’ names sent by The Association of Former Students.
Welch, executive director of Halliburton Programs and Clinical Professor for the Department of Management in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, will speak about the sacred tradition of Muster.
“There is no greater honor than to be able to speak and to remind those families that our loved ones’ spirits will remain forever,” Welch said. “It really defines what it means to me to be an Aggie.”
Although Welch has traveled the country speaking, it means a lot to him to be able to stay local this year.
“The reason I’m honored to do the Brazos County A&M Club is I have been a part of the A&M faculty now for 22 years, and as an Aggie parent, as an administrator, but mostly as a former student, there’s no greater honor than to be home with my family of 33 years to say ‘thank you’ to the community of Bryan-College Station that has been home to me and my family for decades,” Welch said.
To view the Brazos County A&M Club Roll Call list, visit www.aggienetwork.com/muster/rollcall/.
Worldwide Muster Roll Call
More than 1,600 Aggies’ names will be read during the 2019 Worldwide Muster Roll Call for the Absent on Sunday, beginning at 3 p.m. inside the Clayton W. Williams Jr. Alumni Center.
Last year was the first time in modern Aggie Muster history that every name on an annual list of deceased former students was called in a single location, and that tradition is carrying on this year.
“The response to our 2018 Worldwide Roll Call was overwhelmingly positive, with Aggies listening in from coast to coast and even from around the world,” said Kathryn Greenwade, Vice President for Communications and Human Resources at The Association of Former Students. “We anticipate even more will listen in to our 2019 Roll Call.”
During the reading, about 30 people — including top university and system administrators, Association staff and volunteers, student leaders, university faculty and staff and members of the Muster Committee — will take shifts reading the names. Those in attendance will answer with “Here.” The ceremony takes about three hours.
Members of The Association decided to do the Worldwide Roll Call because the Roll Call for the Absent includes names of Aggies whose passings were reported more than a year ago and had never been called, or names that had no associated address, so there’s no way to send them to a local chapter.
“Every Aggie matters, and every Aggie should be recognized at Muster,” Greenwade said. “It was important to us at The Association of Former Students to make sure that promise was fulfilled and we are honored to carry out this sacred duty.”
The roll call can be streamed live at tx.ag.here. It will also be available for on-demand viewing afterward.
The largest Muster ceremony, the 2019 Campus Muster Ceremony, will be 7 p.m. Monday inside Reed Arena with about 10,000 students and visitors.
Because April 21 — the day Muster traditionally is observed — is Easter, the ceremony will be on Monday to accommodate the many students and faculty who attend.
Retired Air Force Col. Dwight Roblyer, the keynote speaker was chosen for his Aggie core values, said David Pham, Muster Committee Speaker executive. Roblyer graduated in 1984 from Texas A&M, where he was a member of the Corps of Cadets and a Texas A&M President’s Endowed Scholar. He served in the USAF from 1984 until 2011, earning the master space operations badge and reaching the rank of colonel. During his service, he also earned a master’s degree in space operations and a Ph.D. in political science. He currently is a lecturer in the department of political science at Texas A&M.
“We look for a speaker who is accessible to our community and who can connect to the honored families,” Pham said.
Roblyer sees the value in linking the past, the present and the future, Pham said. His ability to see things from that perspective will set the tone for the Muster Ceremony.
“He contributes to the Aggie community a lot,” Pham said. He’s a professor at Texas A&M, and he goes above and beyond his profession as an educator. He creates an inclusive environment in his classrooms, making sure he allows each student to feel valued. A lot of students know him to be that professor that opens his home to students staying in College Station during the holiday break. He’s an outstanding Aggie in his actions and values and all he’s done throughout his life.”
Following Roblyer’s address and the Roll Call for the Absent, which will include Former President George H.W. Bush and Former First Lady Barbara Bush, a rifle volley will be fired and a special arrangement of taps will be played.
In conjunction with the ceremony and in honor of the 50th year reunion class, the Camaraderie Barbecue will be held on Kyle Field from noon to 2 p.m. Monday. The event will have food, entertainment and the opportunity to bond with fellow Aggies.
For more information, visit muster.tamu.edu.