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VMI cadets prepare to march at Donald Trump's inauguration

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LEXINGTON (WSLS 10) - The entire nation is preparing for the 45th president to take the oath of office Friday, including local cadets.

Cadets at Virginia Military Institute will take part in president-elect Donald Trump's inauguration.

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On post in Lexington, the trumpet signals it's time for cadets to once again fall in line.

They are practicing for perhaps one of the most important marches of their life.

Cadet Andrew Bradshaw, class of 2017, said it's an exciting time. They've only been back from Christmas furlough for three days, but that hasn't slowed the preparations.

"This is probably one of the few opportunities to be so close to a living president of the United States," Bradshaw said.

On Friday morning, VMI will send 1,700 hundred cadets on 35 buses to Washington D.C. Of the 60 parade units, VMI will be the largest and the last the president will see. Regimental Commander, cadet 1st Capt. Timothy Davison, a senior at VMI, said this week has been full of anticipation and excitement.

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"To march for probably the most important person in our country, it's the pinnacle of my cadetship," Davison said.

They're busy practicing on post several times a day in full uniform.

"It's a lot of marching, but we want to look good. As best as possible," Davison said.

Wednesday was the big uniform inspection. Bradshaw explained that every stitch of clothing will be looked at.

"Really what we are looking for, there is making sure everything is lined up right, everything is fitting right, making sure we are shining our stuff," Bradshaw explained. "It's an inspection, so we can get what's called boned or get demerits if our uniforms aren't looking up to snuff," Davison said.

Not one foot can be out of step. As commanders of each company explained after the inspection, "the world will be watching."

This is the 15th presidential inauguration that VMI has been invited to. Their first dates back to 1909 during President Taft's inauguration. Their most recent was in 2012 when they marched in front of President Barack Obama.

Marching in the inaugural parade has become an honored tradition at VMI. Although the 2016 campaign season was heated and largely controversial, cadets say despite political affiliation, it's all about respecting their commander-in-chief.

"In the military, you don't show political affiliation, but you support the commander-in-chief no matter what. We are very excited to be selected," Bradshaw said.

Many of those cadets are preparing to join the military in just a few months.

Seeing the commander-in-chief is a particularly special moment for Davison who will join the Army after graduation.

"Not many people in the Army can say that they marched for the president's inauguration," Davison said.

True to a cadet; hard work that they say is well worth the reward.


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