Vice President Mike Pence speaks to cadets at VMI

Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 7:13 AM EDT
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Vice President Mike Pence spoke to cadets at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington Thursday.

Cadets and staff were on hand as Pence spoke of the history of VMI and thanked the cadets for their service. He also made note of the anniversary Friday of the 9/11 attacks on America.

Pence was scheduled to speak at 2 p.m., but was delayed about an hour after flying to Roanoke and being driven to Lexington.

Also in attendance was Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, a 1996 graduate from VMI.

LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - Vice President Mike Pence is visiting one of our hometowns for the first time since he spoke at the 75th D-Day Anniversary in Bedford last year.

He’ll be joined by the secretary of the army, and VMI alum, Ryan McCarthy, to share different aspects of leadership with the VMI cadets.

“This has been something that’s been in the works for some time,” VMI spokesperson Bill Wyatt said.

For the last eight to 12 months, VMI officials have been working with the White House to plan a special visit from the sitting vice president, Mike Pence.

“We’re excited to have them and there have been a lot of people who are involved in making this happen," Wyatt said.

Hosting worldwide influential dignitaries is nothing new to the Virginia Military Institute.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush," Wyatt listed. "We’ve had cabinet secretaries, Margaret Thatcher and Lyndon Baines Johnson over the years so this is really part of the leadership development of our cadets.”

In years past, speeches from these history-makers were welcome to the public. However, Thursday’s visit from Vice President Mike Pence is only for VMI cadets because there isn’t enough space in Cameron Hall to physically distance the appropriate 6 feet.

“Typically at these events, you’d see a packed house," Wyatt said. "That’s not going to be the case today.”

Instead, people will be able to watch the speech online on the White House website, WDBJ7′s Facebook page, and on WDBJ7+.

Wyatt said bringing these political dignitaries to campus is not about politics but rather it’s about exposing cadets to different types of leaders.

“It’s important for our cadets to understand their leadership journeys and how they can apply those principles to their leadership development as well.”

WDBJ7 spoke to several local political leaders early this week about their thoughts on the VP’s visit. Many said they were excited the cadets would get the opportunity to hear from one of the country’s top leaders.

“Those young men and women there, most of them aspire to military careers and so they have a high regard for whoever the occupant of the Oval Office is and the vice president, simply because military people are trained to respect the national leadership," Rich Anderson, chair of the Virginia State Republican Party, said.

“It’s important that he’s going to be here," said Senator Creigh Deeds (D-26) said. "I’m sure he’ll have an audience that has an interest in what he has to say.”

“I’ve met him many times," Rep. Ben Cline (R-6) said. "He’s excited to come to Lexington and hopefully he’ll rally the cadet corps and give them something to shout about.”

Thursday, part of VMI’s campus around Cameron Hall will be closed to the public. There will also be some road closures like North Main St. and North Jefferson between noon and 3 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is expected to speak at 2 p.m.

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