Once there was a grad student. She had a home and a job far away. She came to campus only for class, usually once a week. She did this for years, until she finished her classes. Then she didn’t come to campus at all.
She didn’t understand the Aggie Spirit. Texas A&M was the institution at which she was enrolled, and that was all. She didn’t grasp the strange, almost cult-like kinship Aggies seemed to share, and even found it annoying. Why must they whoop at every mention of their school? And what are the strange motions they make with their hands? Who were these Texas Aggies? Did they really think they were better than everyone else? Perhaps she was a tad resentful, as people sometimes are when a circle closes, leaving them outside.
Last year, she came to Muster. There she caught a glimmer of that unique bond that ties the Aggie family together. Years from now, when her dissertation is a distant memory, and her time on earth is done, would a comrade answer “Here” for her?
Over time, the memory of Muster dimmed, buried by the busy-ness of life. But once started, such a spark could not be completely extinguished. Our grad student started coming to campus more, as often as her job duties allowed. She even made it to a football game. She can now sing most of the words to the Aggie War Hymn, as long as there is a strong singer nearby for her to follow. Still, she still often felt more like a visitor than a true Aggie.
Tonight, she went to Silver Taps.
Walking through the blackened campus, she had difficulty recognizing the buildings and wished she’d spent more time there. Unsure of her way, she strained to see shadowy figures far ahead, and followed them to the Academic Plaza. As a city dweller constantly surrounded by light, she loved the cloak of darkness—it dimmed sight but sharpened her other senses.
Standing in silence, she thought of students she didn’t know—students snatched away, to the heartbreak of their friends and families. As she listened to the hymns tolled by faraway chimes, she was sad because she couldn’t remember all the words, and vowed to spend more time listening to hymns, and singing them. From the front row, she could see the Corps cadets, arrayed in silent vigil. She thought of all the planning and practice that went into this evening. Just turning off all the campus lights must be a huge logistical challenge. All this for two Aggies? Yes. Would they have done it for just one? Yes.
Click…..Click…..Click. As the Ross Volunteers entered, clad all in white, she wondered…are they nervous? Are any of them praying they won’t make a mistake? …an error in timing, a slip of the hand on a rifle… There would have been no condemnation, of course; but still—no one wanted anything to tarnish the moment. And nothing did.
As the bugles’ last haunting notes died away, she thought of respect, and loyalty, and honor. Fallen we are, full of selfishness and every bad thing; yet we are made in God’s image and thus we get it right at times. Tonight was one of those times.
At last, at last she understood.