We are currently finishing the installation of a memorial that is close to my own heart along with my family. The process has been difficult, but mostly because I want it perfect.
A little background first. I am not a “Traditional” Graduate from Texas A&M University. I am what is known as a Non-Trad or Non-Traditional graduate. I graduated from Blinn College in 2005 with my associates in Business Management. Now it took me 4 years to complete a 2 year degree, but I like to think I was being thorough. I worked a full time job, while paying my own bills to put myself through school. After finally graduating, I chose to start Watson Signs & Monuments. So I began to plan and then in 2006 I started the company.
Fast forward to 2011. I had an amazing customer who has become a very close friend of mine over the years. This gentleman while purchasing his family monument from me asked me a question. He asked what year I graduated from Texas A&M. An honest assumption of a business owner in Aggieland. When I told him that I had not graduated from the University but had though about going back to school to finish my bachelors degree, he then with out missing a beat asked me “If you had the opportunity to go back, would you do it and finish?” I did not hesitate to say yes.
Long story short, that gentleman was instrumental in getting me into the University to finish my bachelors and becoming the Proudest member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie class of 2017. As a matter of fact, it was my honor to ask him to present me my class ring in September of 2016. Which by the way, he did.
Now to the real part of the story...
We often have monument builders from all over the country pass through Aggieland for one reason or another. Either they are friends and stopping by on their way somewhere, come by to see the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, or come by to watch their team get beat by the Fightin’ Texas Aggies. So when we host them, we take them around and show them the campus and explain the traditions of the University. I take them by the Bonfire Memorial. We go over the history of the memorial, but we also talk about some of the most important traditions we have as Aggies. Those traditions are Silver Taps and Muster.
For those who may not be aware, Silver Taps is a tradition that his held the first Tuesday of the month when a student of the University has passed away with in the previous month. At Silver Taps, all the lights on campus are turned out and campus goes quiet. People gather in front of the Academic Building. The only thing you hear is the cadence of the boots of the Ross Volunteers (RVs) as they approach. In the dark silence of the night is then awaken by the bang and muzzle flash of 3 volleys from 7 guns for a 21 gun salute. From Academic Building, you hear crisp notes of a special arrangement of Taps played on a Silver bugle. A very somber moment in the Aggie experience.
Muster is an event that happens annually on April 21st (this year will be on April 22nd so it doesn’t coincide with Easter Sunday). Muster is simply a giant family reunion for Aggies. Muster events are held world wide for and by Aggies. It is where Ags will get together to reminisce of their time on campus here in College Station. It is also the 50th class reunion for a class. The day however is closed by off by a Roll Call for the fallen. At the Roll Call, the names of those Aggies who have passed in the previous year will be read aloud. Once read, a candle will be lit for them, and those present will say ‘Here’ in their honor. As we say “Softly call the Muster, Let comrade answer ‘Here.’”
That is a lot of information to get to the point, but I am getting there, bear with me.
Prior to me becoming a student, I was always upset that I would not be remembered as a part of Aggie Muster. Being a Memorialist, this hit me hard as it is one of the most amazing memorial services there is. Now that I am an Aggie, I can partake in it.
So here is where we get to the point. The project we are working on is, in my opinion, a monument that will absolutely be the most meaningful and impactful monument to the Aggie family forever. Our memorial is to honor the traditions of Muster and Silver Taps. And it is located on the most traveled section of campus. I have been working on this project for 3 years.
When I started the company, I always knew I wanted to have one of my monuments on campus. I never thought it would be this impactful. I never thought it would be this prestigious. I never thought it would mean this much to me.
We are now only 3 weeks away from the dedication of what is going to be called Spirit Plaza, and I would have to say that I could not be happier with how it has turned out. 3 years worth of meetings, work, and designs and we are finally finished.
Spirit Plaza will be the place to learn what it means to be an Aggie, what it means to remember, and what it means to be apart of something bigger than you.
Softly call the Muster, Let Comrade answer ‘Here’
Thanks, Gig’em, and God Bless,
Tony Watson, AICA
Posted on Sun, March 31, 2019
by Tony Watson filed under