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Virginia Military Institute

My last experience with the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) was a bit embarrassing. You see, although some ancestors have attended this institute, it’s the river that runs behind this military school (the Maury) that pulls my family to Lexington to catch enough fish for a few dinners. And, in a boat on that river last year, my 74-year-old father was the one who managed to row us to another great fishing hole as I tanked out from exhaustion (at age 51).

Fortunately, my father was the only person who enjoyed my embarrassment, as we see few VMI students in or along that river. Most VMI students are in class, practicing routines, or taking visitors on tour. VMI is the nation’s oldest military college, founded in 1839, so people who visit the area often want to view the grounds and buildings. A four-year undergraduate college, VMI combines the studies of a full college curriculum and a daily regime of military training and discipline, with “emphasis placed on qualities of honesty, integrity and responsibility.” Its 1300 cadets pursue BA or BS degrees in 13 disciplines in the general fields of engineering, science and liberal arts.

As a visitor, you can enjoy full dress parades, which take place most Friday afternoons in the spring & fall. You can stroll through the beautiful historic campus, or join one of the twice-daily cadet-led tours, which depart from the VMI Museum. And, if you pass by the river in your meanderings, check to see if a middle aged woman is being towed around the waters by an elderly man.

Directions from I-81: Virginia Military Institute is located just 2 miles from I-81. Take exit #191, this will put you on I-64 for 1 mile. Take exit #55 off I-64. Follow Rt. 11 south. As you go over the Maury River Bridge Rt. 11 will split. Merge to the right (Rt. 11 Business). As you come into downtown Lexington, turn right on Letcher Avenue.

Directions from I-64: Virginia Military Institute is located just 1.5 miles off I-64. Take exit #55. Follow Rt. 11 south. As you go over the Maury River Bridge, Rt. 11 will split. Merge to the right (Rt. 11 Business). As you come into downtown Lexington, turn right on Letcher Avenue.

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