It's still April 21 in the States, I was too tired last night to make this post.
As a Texan, April 21 holds special meaning for me; it's the day that the Texans won their independence from Mexico, the day that we became a nation. As an Aggie, it hold even more significance. April 21 is the day of Aggie Muster, 'If there is an A&M man in one-hundred miles of you, you are expected to get together, eat a little, and live over the days you spent at the A&M College of Texas.' I don't know if there are any other Aggies in Misawa, but I'm used to spending the day on my own.
There are three Musters that stand out for me, in 2000, 2003, and 2006. 2000 was the year of my first Aggie Muster. I had been accepted to A&M but didn't really know a whole lot about the school. I knew the basic traditions, knew that I liked the campus, and knew that they had a great Civil Engineering program. I didn't tell anyone that I had no idea what was going on, my friend Rusty was born in Bryan and has always been a die-hard Aggie and he would have ridiculed me for not knowing. So I attended Muster in Ennis, knowing only that I would find out whether or not I'd been awarded a scholarship from the Ennis A&M Club. The 2000 Muster was an important one, Bonfire had fallen just a few months before and we honored the twelve. It was my first REAL experience with former students, not just current students. I was touched by the idea that someone will answer 'Here' for me after I die, and I was honored to do the same for others. I didn't receive a scholarship that night, I was really disappointed. The Aggie Spirit prevailed, though, and the Old Ags there that night were so impressed by all of us incoming Fish that they donated extra money and awarded two more scholarships, one of which I received.
In 2003, I was in Houston for NASACon, one of the most memorable experiences of my college years. I had a lot of fun and made some awesome friends, but the best part was Muster. When we found out that Muster would occur during NatCon, some people immediately said they wouldn't be in Houston. We had a couple of BQs in the AAS squadron and they had to be in College Station and none of the rest of us wanted to miss it, either. We found a conference room in the hotel and set it all up, I think Paige was one of the people in charge of that. I helped read the names, that was an amazing experience for me, but the best part was that Muster was important enough to all of us that we got up early and made it happen. I felt a real sense of community then and I know that the other Aggies who attended who were not AAS or SW members really appreciated it.
Then we come to 2006. I had lived in Clovis for just over a year and was facing my second Muster without going to something organized. My friends Amy and Decie invited me to a party at the 524 bar, one that happened to be pirate-themed. That pirate party was awesome, I got to hang out with friends and drink a lot (basically the only things to do in Clovis). The best part of the night was when I heard 2 drunk guys singing The Spirit of Aggieland. I joined in and after the song was over, found out that they were both Class of '01. That party means so much to me because it reminded me that you find Aggies in the most random of places and that the Aggie Family is such that you can approach anyone just because of the ring on his/her finger and be automatically welcomed because you wear the same ring.
Family is of the utmost importance to me, my 'real' family back in Texas, my Aggie family, and my Air Force family. I'm so happy that they have overlapped, my friend Rusty is now married to my cousin Mary and one of my friends from the Fireballs is an Aggie, Class of '98. I don't know where Annelise will go to college, but she will grow up knowing all about the importance of family and how being an Aggie not only gave me a new family, it helped me meet John.
1 week ago