May 10, 2023

May 15, 1951, Marshall Day at VMI: A Photo Essay

Each May 15, the Virginia Military Institute corps of cadets assembles to pay tribute to the ten cadets who were killed in the Civil War Battle of New Market, in 1864.

Cadets marching through Barracks Arch

VMI cadets march in procession through Jackson Arch at Marshall Day ceremony in Lexington, VA. GCMF Photo.

Cannons fired in tribute, May 15, 1951, GCMF Photo.

On New Market Day in 1951, VMI also celebrated the fifty-year career of their most accomplished graduate, George C. Marshall, Class of 1901.

Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall on Post for New Market-Marshall Day joint ceremonies, May 15, 1951, GCMF Photo.


Marshall shakes hands with Mrs. Ernest A. Sale, wife of VMI’s President of Board of Visitors, GCMF Photo.


The event was designated “Marshall Day” and a special program was printed for the occasion.

That morning Marshall was awarded the Virginia Distinguished Service Medal and at 11:15am was present for the New Market Day ceremonial roll call, in which the names of the ten cadets were read aloud one by one.

Virginia Governor John S. Battle, Secretary of Defense George C. Marshall, and VMI Superintendent Richard Marshall (no relation), GCMF Photo.

Marshall about to receive the Virginia Distinguished Service Award from Governor Battle, GCMF Photo.


The Virginia Distinguished Service Medal is shaped like the state flower, the American Dogwood, GCMF Photo.

Marshall, Governor Battle and VMI Cadets walk across the Parade Ground after a Regimental Review of the Cadet Corps, GCMF Photo.

Marshall taking a break between ceremonies, GCMF Photo.

At 12:15 VMI held a ceremony dedicating the George Catlett Marshall Arch, an entrance way into a new section of the barracks completed in 1949. Marshall Arch joined two arches named after Generals George Washington and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. The program reverently states: “Through the George Catlett Marshall Arch shall march the cadets of today and the future.”

Crowds gather for the Marshall Arch dedication ceremony, GCMF Photo.

Marshall Arch dedication ceremony, GCMF Photo.

Looking toward George Catlett Marshall Arch, GCMF Photo.

Bernard Baruch speaks during the ceremony, GCMF Photo.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert A. Lovett and Mrs. Lovett and Mr. and Mrs. Stuart Symington at the dedication of Marshall Arch, GCMF Photo.

Marshall speaks during the ceremony, GCMF Photo.

Crowds disperse after the dedication of Marshall Arch, GCMF Photo.

Marshall stands beneath newly-dedicated Marshall Arch, GCMF Photo.

A 1994 letter from Mr. C.E. May, identifying the VMI cadets standing with Marshall in Marshall Arch, and their accomplishments, GCMF Archive.

Marshall also attended a VMI Board of Visitors meeting that day, GCMF Photo.

Later that evening Marshall had his 50th Class Reunion. Marshall made light of the event later when asked by his biographer Forrest C. Pogue if he was ever “made to feel that you were a Yankee at VMI”:

Yes, quite a bit. I was “hazed” on my accent up to the day of my graduation. I remember that when I was called on to make a speech at my class dinner honoring the occasion of naming this arch for me, my principal twist that I gave to it was while they were these southern fellows largely, and while they pretty much kept the pressure on me on account of my northern accent and all, I happened to be the one and only one there who had an arch named for him down at the VMI.

Class of 1901 reunion at VMI, GCMF Photo.

Marshall poses with three other members of the 1901 class as they look over a picture of their class taken a half century ago. Left to right: Rev. James V. Johnson (Miami), Col C.S. Roller, Jr. (Fort Defiance, VA), Marshall an Col. B.B. Browne (Winchester, VA), AP Wire photo.

Cadets holding commissioned rank at V.M.I. First Captain and Commander of Company A, George Marshall, is seated on front row, third from Left, Lexington, Va. Front row, left to right: Taylor Scott Carter, William Wallace Sheppard, Marshall, Richard Coke Marshall Jr., Calvert Cornelius McCabe, Julien Ravenel Marshall, Charles Somerville Roller. Back row, left to right: WAlton Goodwin Jr., Otho Vaughan Kean, Fred Cotten Elliot, Edward LeGrand Cannon, Leroy Anderson Britton, Philip Bradley Peyton, Edwin Scott Martin, Morgan Hughes Hudgins. Richard and Julien were brothers but of no relation to George Marshall, GCMF Photo.

Members of the Class of 1901, V.M.I. as they appeared as Cadets and at 50th reunion, Marshall Day, May 15, 1951, GCMF Photo.

A year after Marshall’s death, VMI added a plaque underneath Marshall Arch which contains a quote from President Eisenhower, GCMF Photo.

GCMF Photo.