The Virginia Military Institute, located near Lexington, Virginia – was founded in 1839. Known as ''The West Point of The South'', VMI (as it is also known), was the first State Funded College in America. Unlike other US Military ''Service Schools'', VMI is still a ''College First'' and a Military installation, second. As such, VMI receives no US Government funding. Cadets (accepted in a similar manner as does The USMA at West Point), maintain the same Military training format of a Military School or College. A Cadet attend for (4) years of training and receive upon graduation a Bachelor of Sciences or Arts. The Military training received is the same as Reserve Officer Candidate Training (or ROTC). Unlike other Service Academies, Cadets may receive a Commission as an Active Duty 2[sup]nd[/sup] Lieutenant in ANY US Armed Forces Branch (after completing that Service's Officer Candidate School requirements). In addition, a VMI graduate does NOT have to fulfill a Service obligation if they decide to not join an Active Duty Force.
VMI has a rich and colorful History which had graduated many famous US Military General Officers, Congressmen and even US Presidents. During The American Civil War (1861-1865), VMI graduated many of The South's (The Confederacy) finest Officers. The Institute even figured prominently in a major Civil War Battle, The Battle of New Market, Virginia. Low on local Forces, a contingent of VMI Cadets (some as young as 14 years), repelled Northern Forces who were again attempting to cut The Shenandoah Valley in half (to deprive The South of needed resources).
The official Flag of VMI was originally the same as The State Flag of Virginia. Even during The Civil War, this was unchanged. It was not until the 1950s – that a new Flag was created. The current Colors of The Corps. Of Cadets is a White Field. Centered and printed on both sides – is a full color imaging reflective of The Institutes Military ideals. Green Fields and Mountains represent The State of Virginia. The Federal Shield Crest of Red, White and Blue is set Center, with the image of Virginia's most famous personage, George Washington – over a fully spread, winged Eagle. These icons are flanked by twin US National Flags in draped appearance. A Blue Banneroll is placed under all with the wording in Gold reading ''E PLURIBUS UNUM'' Latin for ''Out of Many, One'' – which is a National symbol of The United States since it's founding.