The history of KMI by Tommy Young '59

  • Try to remember the kind of September when life was slow and oh, so mellow
  • Try to remember the kind of September when grass was green and grain was yellow
  • Try to remember the kind of September when you were a tender and callow fellow
  • Try to remember, and if you remember
Then follow                “Try to Remember” from the Fantasticks
                                     Lyrics by Tom Jones

    Follow me through the history of an institution that was more than just a school; an institution that left an indelible mark on more than 11,000 young men and their families; an institution that educated and trained young men to be valuable members of society for 126 years.
    My wife Joyce and I returned to Lyndon in May of 1973 for the final commencement of Kentucky Academy.  I had not been back to Lyndon since I graduated in 1959.  We were living in Louisiana, but something told me that I had to go to Lyndon.  We made a special trip home for the final commencement.  There were no cadet MPs giving us directions so after finding a parking place we walked toward the gym.  It was strange not to see Cadets in dress uniforms, just students in blazers.  At the door to the gym stood a familiar figure, Sergeant Alfred O. Drury, who had been a member of the Military Department when I was a cadet.  His comment after 14 years was, “Young, what the Hell are you doing back on campus?”  I ignored his remark and said simply, “Good Morning, Sergeant.”
    We were standing at the back of the gym trying to decide where to sit when I felt someone touch my hand.  I looked down to see Bart Williams, Black Bart, the nemesis of my Cadet years.  He looked at me, gently squeezed my arm and said softly “Welcome Home Mr. Young.”
    I am now retired and live in the house that I left more than fifty-eight years ago to become a K.M.I. cadet.  It took a number of years to realize that Bart was right.  I had come home.
    That home is now gone.  It exists only as a memory for a diminishing number of men.  However, what that institution tried to achieve, through the efforts of a highly dedicated staff and faculty, should not be lost to history.  The young boys who grew to manhood on the various K.M.I. campuses learned important lessons about life and the world. But more importantly, they learned about themselves.  They learned that “Character Makes the Man” is more than just a motto.
    On May 27, 1973, Dr. Harry Lee Bailey '55, the last President of the K.M.I. Alumni Association, addressed the Kentucky Academy graduating class.  After thanking the many faculty and staff members who had made K.M.I. an outstanding school, Harry concluded:
I do not know what the future holds for this beautiful campus.  I feel sure that as I drive out the lane today, I leave this place for the last time, as I shall always remember it.  It is my hope, and the hope of many members of the Cadet Corps, that at least a portion of the parade ground would be preserved as a playground or park, as a memorial to the Cadets who once marched there.
Hopefully, K.M.I. may be a reality once again someday, somewhere else.  But if that is not to be, and if a portion of the parade ground is preserved – should you go there early in the spring on a crisp bright Sunday afternoon – stop and listen for a moment.  If you listen closely, surely you will hear the Adjutant shout, “Sound Adjutants Call!” – and the bugles will sound – for there the spirit of the Corps of the Kentucky Military Institute will march forever.  And may the memory of that Corps never fade.

    Harry was right.  The Corps of Cadets is on the plain.  The Colors are uncased and the guidons snap softly in the breeze.  The Corps waits patiently for the last cadet to join the formation.  When he finally arrives and finds his place in the ranks, the command: “Pass In Review!” will carry down the line.  With that command, the Corps of Cadets of Kentucky Military Institute will march into history.
KMI History Project

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