GENEVA, N.Y. — At least one Genevan will be in attendance Jan. 20 when Donald J. Trump is inaugurated as our nation’s 45th President.
Thomas Schmitt of Hamilton Street, a 2014 Geneva High graduate, will be among 1,600 members of the Corps of Cadets from Virginia Military Institute marching in the inaugural parade.
“I’m very excited about it. It will be a cold and long day, but it should be a great experience to say I did that,” Schmitt said Friday during a visit to the Times.
He said he applied to VMI, based in Lexington, Va., as a senior at Geneva High.
“I always wanted to be a military officer,” he said, adding that he plans to be commissioned as a Marine Corps officer when he graduates from VMI in May 2018.
He said the entire 1,600 corps of cadets at VMI has marched by invitation in Presidential Inauguration parades, dating back to Warren G. Harding’s inauguration in 1921.
“We have been invited to march every inauguration since then,” he said. The corps will drive to Washington the night before Jan. 20 and then rise early in the morning of the inauguration.
“We will be in uniform and carrying rifles. Each rifle must be inspected by the Secret Service to be sure it is not loaded and the firing pin is removed,” Schmitt said.
He said the group will then line up for the parade. At the 2008 and 2012 inauguration parades, VMI was near the end of the parade line.
Schmitt said VMI is mostly male, but its first female was admitted in 1996, and women now make up about 10 percent of the student body at the college, founded in 1839.
VMI is the alma mater of Army Gen. George Marshall of World War II fame.
Schmitt said Stonewall Jackson didn’t attend the school but was a professor before the Civil War. Gen. George Patton went there for a year before moving to West Point.
“I know some of us are excited and some are reluctant because of Donald Trump, but no one wants to sit this out. We’re all going,” Schmitt said, declining to say who he voted for last November.