October 8 – 10, 2016

“V.M.I. & the Shenandoah Valley”

Tour of Civil War and historic sites in the Shenandoah Valley, including V.M.I.

The annual autumn trip the Meade Society experienced in 2016 was a resounding success! A three-day affair, this year’s sojourn was a bit different than others. Clara and Jerry Bajc assisted both Betty and Jerry McCormick in their endeavors to provide an excellent experience for the group. They were aided by their son Austin Bajc—a Meade Society member since elementary school!— who is now a senior at the Virginia Military Institute.  We were enabled in getting unusual access to the history, as well as his personal experience, at the august and storied institution. In all the places we visited we had wonderful, informative and enthusiastic guides.

[For a complete day-by-day run-down on the trip see the winter 2016-2017 issue of Meade Post Dispatch.]

The trip’s three days were crammed with interesting sites and history. Some of the highlights were the 300-acre battlefield, the Bushong Farmstead and the Battle of New Market, fought on May 15, 1864 during the Shenandoah Campaign. In addition we toured the Civil War Museum of Virginia, with its VMI artifacts, the Kaminsky Gallery of Civil War Firearms, the Robert Raeburn Civil War Art Collection, the Stained Slab Glass mural, where we learned about the Field of Lost Shoes, with its two still-standing original structures, the Bushong Farmstead.

We enjoyed a detailed history of VMI and its many illustrious graduates, who distinguished themselves in battles and wars, science and diplomacy. We visited the Lee Chapel and Museum on the Washington and Lee campus, the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery and the Jackson house

As is customary with most Meade trips we enjoyed our meals. We dined at such places as the Woodstock Garden Café and later enjoyed the pizza party in the Jefferson/Jackson room at our motel. We also lunched with the cadets in the VMI mess hall, while Austin circulated among us to answer our questions. Later, we were joined again by Austin and his professors at the Mill Street Grill in downtown Staunton.

For this writer the highlight of the three days was the George Catlett Marshall Foundation and its Museum and Library, where we savored a leisurely tour of the Museum devoted to the great general, logistician and diplomat, who went on the become the Secretary of Defense and Nobel Peace Prize awardee. We were allowed to hear from the librarian and archivist—even its president!—and see artifacts seldom seen by the casual visitor, e.g. an original map of the planning for D-Day, a sword given to Mussolini commemorating ten years of Fascism “liberated” by the Americans and given to Marshall, and an Enigma Machine.

As usual the trip members thank our capable driver of Hagey Tour coach bus number 76 for his excellent driving expertise. Our gratitude and heartfelt kudos are extended to Betty and Jerry McCormick and Clara and Jerry Bajc for planning the trip and seeing it to fruition. Our three days were delightful, informative and most enjoyable.