Founders Day at VMI

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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) -- Founders Day at VMI, full of pomp and ceremony -- and of course, canons!

Battery CO Matthew Heinrich said, "This is the only time during the year we do a salute. Now if the president or the vice president or something like that decided to show up or a congressman then there might be a special occasion."

A unique duty at a college not like most.

"I've never experienced anything like it, and it's something I'll never forget," Henrich stated.

But these aren't the only guns on campus. There's Little John.

The Director of VMI Museum System's Col. Keith Gibson, Director said, "Little John, the cannon that's fired off ceremonially in celebration during the football season here at VMI, takes its origins from a very successful series of football seasons in the late 1950s."

And, really, it wasn't a cannon.

"They cobbled together some iron pipe and welded on something that looked like an artillery carriage, and a couple of wagon wheels and a little bit of red, white, and yellow paint, and voila, they had a signal cannon," said Gibson.

Which they replaced with something a little more formal, and with a more romantic origin.

"It was made from a bunch of spent rounds from these guns," stated Henrich.

Little John CIC Blake Barber said, "It's used for pep rallies, football games, and eventually when the Rats work their way out to Breakout sometime next semester, it will be used to wake them up around 5 in the morning."

And, with it being fired for every football score, well, it hasn't gotten used much this year.

"No sir, no sir. And that's disappointing, but at the same time, we're a team in the end, whether we win or lose, and we're fighting we're shooting for our team regardless of the outcome," stated Barber.

And so whether it's the big guns or Little John, they say it's really all about the corps.

"For us it's an honor and a remembrance of the original cadets and the original battery," said Henrich.