Shaara Scholarship Program Perpetuates the Legacy
Few places are as hallowed to the VMI Family as the New Market Battlefield. Annually, each new class travels there to take the Cadet Oath, and at least part of Breakout often occurs there. For many cadets, their experience at the Battlefield sparks a life-long interest in Civil War history. For many of the thousands of visitors to the Battlefield, their time there
prompts an interest in VMI.
In order to encourage cadets’ interest in Civil War history and to acquaint visitors with VMI, in 1999, best-selling author Jeff Shaara provided the funds to establish the Jeff Shaara New Market Battlefield Scholar-in-Residence Program. Every year, a cadet who is chosen by a panel drawn from the History Department and VMI Museums, spends ten weeks at the interpreting the history of the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War. He or she receives a stipend as well as a signed collection of the Civil War trilogy authored by Jeff Shaara—Gods and Generals and Last Full Measure—and his father Michael who wrote the seminal The Killer Angels.
The Shaara Scholar rotates among the functions of the Battlefield, assisting the staff and becoming acquainted with various facets of museum management. In addition, he or she represents the Corps of Cadets to the visiting public. “Having Shaara scholars here during the summer helps visitors make a meaningful connection to the Institute,” said Major Troy Marshall, New Market Battlefield site director. “We’re 84 miles from VMI, but, with a cadet here, that distance goes away.”
"Here is a remarkable way for a cadet to work and study at what for all Americans, but especially VMI alumni and cadets, is a singular place.” Mr. Shaara said at the announcement of his program. “I am certain, too, that young people visiting New Market will have their interest heightened by seeing a young man or woman, a VMI cadet, presenting the Civil War experience.”