The Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets’ 360 first-year students will make the annual trip to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, on Sept. 16.

For the second year, a dozen upper-class cadets will join the first-year students to share their experiences from the corps’ Global Scholars Program focused on the Allied invasion of Europe during World War II.

Now entering its third year, the study abroad program includes a three-credit hour seminar during the spring semester followed by a weeklong trip to France in May funded almost entirely by alumni donations to the corps. The program’s goal is applied history — using the lessons of Normandy to lead to wider discussions about current world leadership and national security challenges.

The experience often inspires cadets to examine their own leadership styles. Cadet Jack Holland, a junior from Vienna, Virginia, majoring in finance and management in the Pamplin College of Business, said he realized that “there is no excuse to be a poor leader in the corps. Bad things happen and it won’t be easy, but my worst day will be nothing compared to what they went through” on D-Day.

This will be the 11th consecutive year that first-year cadets visit the D-Day Memorial, a reminder of the commitment they are making to the corps and as future military officers.

The corps supports the memorial through its annual donation collection, being held Sept. 23 at the Corps Reunion football game against Old Dominion University, which is also Military Appreciation Day. Cadets will be collecting at all gates before kickoff. 

Since 2001, the corps has collected more than $200,000 for the memorial and is the largest, noncorporate sponsor of the D-Day Memorial.

The D-Day trip would not be possible without the generosity of late corps alumnus Raymond Reed, Class of 1957, and his wife, Peggy, who understood the importance of today’s cadets learning about those who have gone before them. Peggy Reed continues to make the trip a reality by funding the transportation and meal costs, while the memorial grants the cadets free admission.

Share this story