Day 13: My Husband's Home State

As we walked around the Virginia Welcome Center off I-64, I began to realize that we have seen a lot of Virginia over the past 17 years.  College trips, day trips, family vacations and driving through to other destinations has meant we have many memories connected to Virginia.  Of course, it is also where my husband was born and lived for the first 8 years of his life, so it holds a special place for us.  I am married to a Virginian and I am happy to claim that.  There are many famous men who came from and/or lived in Virginia.  Meriwether Lewis, Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, George Mason (one of my husband's ancestors), eight Presidents, Edgar Allen Poe and John Carter.  Ok, so John Carter is one of Edgar Rice Burroughs fictional characters in his Mars series, but he chose to make him a Virginian.

When we visited VMI, Virginia Military Institute, today there was a quote in the museum from George S. Patton that after he transferred from VMI to West Point he said West Point had superior marksmen, but VMI had superior gentlemen.  Good character is highly valued. 

This is the dormitory and the area where they can be seen doing drills and marches.

A closer view of the castle-style buidlings

The inside of the chapel where they have the large painting of the Battle of New Market where VMI cadets went to aid confederate forces.

I really like VMI's campus.  The buildings have a castle look to them and the chapel still has old straight wooden pews with cushions on them.  Their free museum is under the chapel and there is an elevator for it in the church lobby.  One of the highlights of the museum are the items they have acquired that belonged to Stonewall Jackson. 

Stonewall Jackson's jacket that he was wearing when he was accidentally shot.  You can see the hole in the left sleeve where the bullet passed through into his arm.

Little Sorrel, Jackson's horse, is preserved here and some other items like one of Jackson's saddles.

They also have artwork that was done by former cadets and pictures and information about past cadets and what they went on to accomplish.  They have an extensive firearms collection.  The museum has been renovated and they are continuing to work on it.  It is not large, but a worthwhile visit if you are in the area.  Be sure to print off a copy of "Almost 20 Questions" for your children to use while touring the museum.  It has pictures, information and questions to guide them through the museum. They also have a brochure that includes information for a walking tour of the campus.

Next door to VMI lies Washington and Lee.  The university was originally named for George Washington after he saved the school with a generous endowment and then after the Civil War Robert E. Lee came and served as President.  Following Lee's death they renamed the college to include him.  Robert E. Lee is buried in the crypt below Lee's Chapel.  A statue of him lying on his cot with his sword by his side is upstairs behind the chapel.  They do not allow any photography inside the chapel, crypt or museum downstairs.  It is also free to tour, although donations are appreciated.  I was able to take a picture of Traveller's grave.  He was Robert E. Lee's horse. 

Lee's Chapel on the campus of Washington and Lee University

Originally Traveller was buried in a ravine behind the school, then his skeleton was exhumed and placed on display until his remains were buried outside Lee's crypt.

In Lexington you will also find Stonewall Jackson's grave in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery near downtown.  They have a quaint downtown that fills several blocks.

Stonewall Jackson's grave as well as some of his family.  There are markers of many old graves in this local Lexington, VA cemetery.

A view of Lexington's downtown, with VMI in the background

Since we were meeting one of my husband's cousins at Washington and Lee, she took us to a park next to Lylburn Downing Middle School and the kids were able to play and run around for awhile.  After having to be quiet and respectful at the universities it was nice for them to be able to expend some energy.  They also had restrooms and a nice gazebo with picnic tables, so it was a great place to stop.  Playing at a local park when on a trip can be a wonderful TripLearning experience.  It is nice to get away from the normal tourist traps and "hang out" with the locals.  You can learn about the area and make new friends.  Our kids have made lots of friends at parks like that and it is a great way to build social skills by being put in a situation where you don't know anyone and are forced to get to know them.  I don't want my children to be afraid of new people and new situations, so I look for places that give them opportunities for interaction. 

The playground next to Lylburn Downing Middle School


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