Honor, Integrity, Discipline, Selfless Service

Texas A&M 1Those are the qualities highlighted at my recent 50th reunion of graduates from the 1964 class at Texas A&M. It was a wonderful gathering that in many ways surpassed my expectations!

Naturally, one highlight was the informal gathering of a dozen of the men who had spent time together from our freshman through senior year. We were all in the same Corps of Cadets “outfit” creatively called Company A-3. We lived together in one dormitory and had successfully survived the very real challenges of hazing to which freshmen in those days were regularly exposed.

When people go through difficult times together, a lifelong bond is formed between them. That bond was evident at our four hour gathering, spouses included, during which we recalled stories and experiences from the past and summarily brought each other up to date regarding personal, family and professional experiences of the past half century. Very interesting stories!

Another highlight was the Aggie Muster Silver Taps, held in the 10,000 seat auditorium on campus. Reed Arena was packed to capacity, with well-dressed and well-behaved students surrounding us old codgers who were seated on the main floor. This gathering is held annually on April 21 on the main campus in College Station and in 300 other locations around the world.

The main focus of Muster is the calling of the names of all former students who have passed away during the 12 months prior. Someone in the crowd answers “Here!” to signify the symbolical presence of the deceased, and a candle is lit after the calling of each name.

When all names have been called and all candles lit, the Ross Volunteers (an honor guard of juniors and seniors in which I participated long ago) marches into the auditorium and fires a 21-gun salute in three volleys of seven shots each. Then “Taps” (also known as “Day is Done”) is played three times by a small group of bugle-playing Band members. The somber notes penetrate the candle lit silence. In many ways it’s a very meaningful and memorable experience!

The main speakers at both that evening’s Muster/Silver Taps and also the next morning’s class meeting emphasized the uniqueness of Texas A&M University. They highlighted qualities and characteristics that included “Honor, Integrity, Discipline, and Selfless Service.” In today’s world those commodities are all too often much rarer than they ought to be.

Here at Concordia University Texas in Austin, while we may not use exactly those same words, we certainly encourage the concepts. At Concordia we emphasize the importance of Teaching, Modeling, Practicing and Recognizing the personal and spiritual qualities required to succeed in “Developing Christian Leaders.” We define such leaders as “Men and women who transform communities by seeking out leadership opportunities and influencing people for Christ.” It’s a worthy mission that embodies “Honor, Integrity, Discipline, and Selfless Service.”