Virginia Military Institute

Virginia Military Institute is the oldest state-supported military college in the nation, founded in 1839.  The US News and World Repord consistently ranks it among the nation's top five public liberal arts colleges.  Located in Lexington, VA in the Shenandoah Valley, it is home to about 1,717 cadets each year.  Sixty percent of cadets come from Virginia and the rest enroll from all over the nation and even some foreign countries.  I had never heard of VMI but was interested in checking it out after learning that one of my nephews would like to attend there upon completion of high school.

The first thing that struck me is that this is a 'military' themed education.  Sure enough, each cadet must enroll in and complete a four year ROTC program in order to graduate.  Upon graduation, each cadet has the choice to accept, or not, a commission and about 50% do indeed go into their respective service as commissioned officers.  ROTC scholarships require a four year service contract upon graduation.

The first thing that struck me is that this is a 'military' themed education.  Sure enough, each cadet must enroll in and complete a four year ROTC program in order to graduate.  Upon graduation, each cadet has the choice to accept, or not, a commission and about 50% do indeed go into their respective service as commissioned officers.  ROTC scholarships require a four year service contract upon graduation.

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The whole campus looked so new, clean and orderly one would expect that it was just built!

The whole campus looked so new, clean and orderly one would expect that it was just built!

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The large grassy field was gorgeous, orderly and fit right in with these strongly geometric structures.

The large grassy field was gorgeous, orderly and fit right in with these strongly geometric structures.

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One of these buildings is the barracks where all cadets live together during their 4 year student career.  First year cadets are housed on the fourth floor and fourth year cadets have the honor of the first floor.  Their is some pride that the rooms are not as 'comfy' as the other academies (Air Force, Navy and Army).  For one thing, they lack refrigeration and apparently elevators are not available.  Cadets also eat together in Crozet Hall and wear cadet uniforms.

One of these buildings is the barracks where all cadets live together during their 4 year student career.  First year cadets are housed on the fourth floor and fourth year cadets have the honor of the first floor.  Their is some pride that the rooms are not as 'comfy' as the other academies (Air Force, Navy and Army).  For one thing, they lack refrigeration and apparently elevators are not available.  Cadets also eat together in Crozet Hall and wear cadet uniforms.

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The entry to the chapel.  The museum is in the basement.

The entry to the chapel.  The museum is in the basement.

A lovely chapel.  This is looking backwards away from the alter or front.

A lovely chapel.  This is looking backwards away from the alter or front.

From upstairs.  First time I have ever seen a battlefield with rather gory images as part of an alter!

From upstairs.  First time I have ever seen a battlefield with rather gory images as part of an alter!

This canon, called Little John II is taken to each football game and is fired after every VMI touchdown.

This canon, called Little John II is taken to each football game and is fired after every VMI touchdown.

The museum had excellent, well organized displays of their history, including artifacts, uniforms, weapons, art, portraits of significant graduates, etc.

The museum had excellent, well organized displays of their history, including artifacts, uniforms, weapons, art, portraits of significant graduates, etc.

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Portrait of Stonewall Jackson.

Portrait of Stonewall Jackson.

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Painting of VMI in its early days.

Painting of VMI in its early days.

Painting honoring the role played by VMI cadets and graduates during the Civil War.

Painting honoring the role played by VMI cadets and graduates during the Civil War.

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This is an oil painting of Nelson T. Overton '49B as the Regimental S-3 cadet at VMI.  Cadet Overton is wearing the full regimental dress uniform, holding his shako in his right hand.  He is standing by Limit Gates and the barracks is visible in the background.  He was appointed to the Circuit Court in 1864 and served on the Commonwealth of Virginia Court of Appeals from 1895 to 1899.  Portrait by Allen Jones.

This is an oil painting of Nelson T. Overton '49B as the Regimental S-3 cadet at VMI.  Cadet Overton is wearing the full regimental dress uniform, holding his shako in his right hand.  He is standing by Limit Gates and the barracks is visible in the background.  He was appointed to the Circuit Court in 1864 and served on the Commonwealth of Virginia Court of Appeals from 1895 to 1899.  Portrait by Allen Jones.

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VMI is a Division I college and athletics play an important part in every cadet's experience.

VMI is a Division I college and athletics play an important part in every cadet's experience.