Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets completes socially-distanced Caldwell March

Cadets had to wait until fall to finish last half of 26-mile march

Virginia Tech cadets carry on tradition
Virginia Tech cadets carry on tradition

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech cadets finished an annual tradition Saturday morning, although it took longer to finish than usual because of COVID-19.

Corps of Cadets members typically complete the Caldwell March, a 26-mile trek through Blacksburg, in the fall and spring of their freshman year. However, the Class of 2023 finished the last 13 miles of their journey on Saturday, since the campus was closed in the spring due to social distancing.

“It feels like the culmination of everything we have been working towards that we didn’t get to do last semester," said cadet Jeremiah Gerber. "It feels good to finally put it away.”

The march made a few socially distanced changes this year. Companies of cadets spaced themselves out along the route, and all of the cadets wore masks.

“We’re asking them to be something greater than most students," said Maj. Gen. Randal Fullhart, Virginia Tech’s commandant of cadets. "That’s in terms of the responsibilities they take on here, but certainly after they depart here.”

The cadets who finished the march say they are proud to complete this rite of passage.

“You march back up to upper quad and you say to yourself, ‘You made it, good job,'" said cadet Y.C. Harthausen. 'It’s a long year, but we earned it.’”

The Caldwell March is named for Addison Caldwell, who is regarded as the first Virginia Tech student. In 1872, Caldwell walked 26 miles from his farm in Craig County to attend classes in Blacksburg.

The Corps of Cadets Class of 2024 has already completed the first half of their Caldwell March. Fullhart said they will likely finish their march in the spring.