Big Red Car here on the anniversary of the Battle of New Market on 15 May 1864. It is a touchstone of the Virginia Military Institute whose cadets stormed Yankee artillery batteries with bayonets across a muddy field which came to be known as the Field of Lost Shoes.
The cadets lost 10 KIA and 47 WIA, but drove Yankee general Franz Siegel out of the Valley of Virginia. The Shenandoah Valley was the “breadbasket of the Confederacy” and its loss would have doomed the South.
This day is not one to re-fight the Civil War, a truly ill-conceived and absurd way to settle a myriad of disputes, but one to recognize youthful courage.
Virginia Military Institute has sent its graduates to fight in every war the US has been involved in since its founding on 11 November 1839. It is a hard place to be educated, but it is a great place to be from.
General of the Armies George Catlett Marshall is its most illustrious graduate. It was his genius and preparation which shepherded the creation of a 13MM man military force which took a crucial role in defeating evil in the form of the Germans and the Japanese in World War II.
In Jackson Arch, which provides the primary access to the VMI barracks, is a saying which is burned into every VMI graduate, “You may be whatever you resolve to be!”
I am proud to be a VMI graduate. I salute VMI, all of its graduates, and my Brother Rats on this historical day. Rah Virginia Mil!