Over 420 freshmen cadets will make the sixth-annual trip to the National D-Day Memorial tomorrow. The trip is meant to be an eye-opening experience for the first-years as they begin their journey as a Corps of Cadet member at Virginia Tech.
Major Carrie Cox, one of the staff leaders, says the trip brings the cadets together after having a tough couple of weeks so far.
“It offers them a break from the most intense part of the year so far," Cox said. "It’s a positive learning experience for them to do something as a class, and bond together as a group."
The group will meet in Dietrick on Saturday morning for breakfast, then take the bus to Bedford, which is about 70 miles away.
Alumni Raymond and Peggy Reed, class of 1957, sponsor the trip each year. They cover the cost of transportation and meals, while the Memorial allows the cadets free entrance.
The trip was started in 2001, when Cadet Anthony Madeira, class of 2005, learned that the memorial was facing financial troubles. Madeira began to raise money for the memorial and contributed $6,000 the first year, and then another $10,000 the second year.
The Corps of Cadets has collected over $190,000 for the memorial and is the largest, non-corporate sponsor of the D-Day memorial.
Cadet Alex Hughes, a senior political science major, is one of the student leaders who takes the freshmen every year.
“The freshmen just got here and sometimes they don’t know why they’re here. There can be a lot of second thoughts,” Hughes said. “It’s a reminder for the freshmen that people sacrificed themselves that day for our freedom.”
Twenty-three Tech alumni fought in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, as well as the attacks that followed. Monteith Hall is named after 1st Lt. Jimmie Monteith who lost his life during the invasion and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.
“We’re all excited to take them to experience the Memorial. It really puts things in perspective and it’s a powerful experience,” Hughes said.
“In one trip they’re learning history, service, and the connection to the community,” Cox said. “It’s also an opportunity for them to have fun. It’s supposed to be a fun trip for the cadets.”
The Corps of Cadets will be collecting money at the football game against Bowling Green, Saturday September 22. The game will also be the annual Military Appreciation game and Corps homecoming.