Monday, July 21, 2014

A Visit to Lexington

On Wednesday we went into Lexington for a little touristy visit.  We parked and had lunch and then walked around town.  We hit the jackpot when we stopped in at the Visitor's Center because we picked up some maps and got good directions on where to go and what to see.  A big part of our trip was to see the universities.

These are the barracks at VMI.  The building is extremely long, so this is just the main part of it.  It's pretty impressive.  The campus is immaculate and the kids thought it was pretty cool to see the cannons scattered here and there.

And here is one of the main buildings of Washington & Lee.  This is another gorgeous campus with large, mature trees scattered throughout providing shade and a beautiful view.  And literally the 2 schools are directly next to each other.  It really bothers Brad that right now the only thing that separates the 2 is a construction fence (because they're doing renovations at VMI).  Because he voiced this irritation, we don't let it go and remind him of the fact that it bugs him so much.
So a big bonus to having family that lives in the Buena Vista Stake or serving in the Singles Stake is that they have connections.  Clif set us up with a member of the stake presidency of the singles stake.  (He works at VMI.)  He agreed to meet us and take us on a tour.  Upon meeting him face to face, I was a bit surprised to find the President Clark is our age!!! 
He attended VMI back in the day and actually knew a couple of people that Jake and I went to high school with that then graduated from VMI.  Small World!!! 
He told the boys about the parade field and the cannonball that sat along the road that was always painted throughout the school year by the cadets.  He shared a bit about the campus and then took us to the museum.  That's where the big treat was.  We met up with the curator of the museum and got to go behind the scenes into the archives to see some cool items that were once Stonewall Jacksons.  (Jackson taught at VMI before the civil war.)
The boys take a look through the spy glass that was said to be given to a family by Jackson at some point during the war.  (The story is still being researched to be validated!)

Here is a book that belonged to one of Jackson's students.  In the back of it he drew of picture of Jackson and wrote a note of how annoyed he was that he was called on and didn't know the answer.  Funny!

This is a piece of fabric with pockets that were labeled with letters of the alphabet.  Jackson would lay this out in his classroom with graded papers in the slots that corresponded with the cadet's name.  Students would pick up their graded work here.  It was interesting though, because the "N" was backwards.  It is thought that Jackson may have had a touch of dyslexia.
While at the museum we also got to see Jackson's stuffed horse, Little Sorel.  On display was his rain jacket that he was wearing when one of his men shot him (accidentally).  This was the shot that took his life 8 days later.
It was so cool to see such old stuff and her the stories.  We also saw parts of one of his pocket watches.  He was crazy about being on time.  Everything he did was punctual.  So the boys think we should start calling Grandpa Shorter Stonewall.
After the curator left, Dallas (President Clark) took us to the replica of a cadet's room in the barracks.  He explained how everything was organized and what certain things meant.  He also told the expectations of cadets and how they received demerits and such.  It is pretty amazing how regimented it all is.  Jake and I immediately liked the idea of the boys attending VMI!!! 
The boys got to try on parts of the uniforms (they were all displayed in this room). 

Brad said it was kind of itchy.  I reminded him it was wool and that he'd always be wearing a dress shirt under it to help cover the scratchy parts.  I think they look sharp!!!  I'd be OK with our boys being cadets. :)
On Washington & Lee campus is Lee's Chapel.  It was never used as a church, but a gathering place for students to pray and then also used for other meetings.  There is a dedicated statue of Lee in the main room.  He is depicted as resting on a cot.  His wife didn't want one of him lying dead, so he looks like he's napping instead.
In the basement is his office with all original furniture pieces, books, papers, etc.  And there is now a mausoleum of Lee and his family down there too.  Outside of the doors is a stone indicating where his favorite horse, Traveler is buried.

We really enjoyed the day in Lexington.  Brad asked if we could move there.  It's definitely a quaint little town with LOTS of history.

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