VMI and the Citizen - Soldier The Virginia Military Institute program is based on the concept of the citizen - soldier, a man prepared to take his place in civilian life but trained and ready for military leadership in time of national need. It is this philosophy of higher education that has distinguished the Institute since 1839 when J. T. L. Preston, who championed the founding of the college, envisioned its graduates as "fair specimens of citizen - soldiers." It is a concept unchanged in the long history of VMI.
"The whole history of VMI is a triumphant chronicle of the part which the citizen - soldier can play in a democracy."President Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1939
"The citizen - soldier is the guarantee against a misuse of power."General of the Army George C. Marshall, VMI '01, 1945
"No college in America can match the record of the Institute in training the citizen - soldier."Secretary of the Army John O. Marsh, Jr., 1982.
"A strong body of citizen - soldiers motivated by patriotism and love of country is of vital importance not only to the defense of our country but to its actual survival as a nation."Lieutenant General Sumter L. Lowry, VMI '14, 1983
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Cincinnatus and the Society of
the CincinnatiLucius Quinctius Cincinnatus was born in Rome about 519 B.C. after retiring to a farm beyond the Tiber, he heeded a call in 458 B.C. to lead an army against Rome's enemies. Victorious, he refused all rewards and returned to his farm and plow. He is acknowledged as the role model of the citizen - soldier.
In 1783, at the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War, the officers of the Continental Army concluded they had emulated Cincinnatus. They took his name and founded the hereditary Patriotic Society of the Cincinnati. George Washington served as the first President General of the Society until his death in 1799. Branches of the Society were formed in each of the thirteen original American Colonies and in France.
The purposes of the Society are to perpetuate the principles of Liberty and Freedom for which the War was fought and to aid charitable and educational purposes. The Society in the State of Virginia established at VMI in 1913 the Cincinnati Medal and has supported other Institute activities.