By Mike Kelley ’74 | Associate Professor & Legacy March Faculty Advisor, David Crawford School of Engineering
The Legacy March continues a tradition that began nearly 200 years ago, when Norwich University founder Alden Partridge took students of the American Literary, Scientific and Military Academic on long walking excursions.
Now in its fifth year, the Legacy March serves as a fundraiser for the Veterans’ Place, a local nonprofit serving homeless veterans in Northfield, Vt. Over the course of three days, Norwich students and alumni march 50 miles from the original site of the NU campus in Norwich, Vt., back to the Northfield.
This academic year, 50 participants joined the 5th Annual Legacy March, which took place October 30 to November 1, 2014. Norwich students were joined on the fall hike by recent alumni, and a veteran from the Veterans’ Place for the service project and pedestrian excursion in true Partridge fashion.
Marchers were supplied with meals, overnight accommodations, and educational highlights by Norwich alumni, staff and faculty; community members; local businesses and nonprofits. Educational highlights along the way included an exploration of the local history and present reconstruction effort behind the 8th Brookfield (Sunset Lake) Floating Bridge, the only floating bridge in Vermont.
Operating under the auspices of NU’s Center for Civic Engagement, marchers traveled by bus from Norwich University to the original site of the American Literary, Scientific and Military Academy on the town green at Norwich, Vt. Once there, marchers and support staff were treated to a hot breakfast at the Norwich Congregational Church hosted by the NU Upper Valley Alumni Club. From there it was off on a historical walk through the town led by Dana Professor of History Gary T. Lord. Marchers then set out for Sharon, Vt., and the Sharon Academy, some 14 miles away.
Over the next two days, marchers traveled to Sharon for a community service project and visited the birthplace of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon faith. A second day of marching and education culminated in “Thanksgiving Dinner” at the Red School House in Randolph Center on the grounds of Vermont Technical College hosted for the third year in a row by Robert Sanborn ’64. On Saturday morning, the group marched to Brookfield to the site of the Floating Bridge where Dana Professor Greg Wight of the David Crawford School of Engineering and Sandra Schmidt, a Vermont Agency of Transportation resident engineer, provided early morning education for the students and supporters about the history and 2014-2015 reconstruction of Vermont’s unique Brookfield Floating Bridge.
By noon on Saturday the marchers had trekked the remaining 18 miles of their three-day journey to the Norwich campus and were welcomed by President Schneider and an appreciative crowd at Sabine field, where the Legacy March student leaders presented the game ball for the home football game against Gallaudet.
On Veterans’ Day, November 11, in a ceremony on the steps of Jackman Hall, the marchers signed their Guidon and presented a check for over $4,000 to the staff and residents of the Veterans’ Place of Northfield. The funds were generated as a result of the generosity of all who supported the event with overnight accommodations and meals, including a fundraiser supported by more than 500 cadets, and the fundraising of the actual student participants of the Legacy March.
This spring marchers will have the opportunity to return to the Brookfield Floating Bridge to see firsthand infrastructure reconstruction work that has taken place over the course of the winter months.