The day to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King may be Jan. 16, but planning and setting intentions for the Cadets at Valley Forge Military Academy begins well in advance of mid-January.
This year, VFMA is teaming up with Global Citizen 365 and Girard College in Philadelphia to support the 28th Annual Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 16.
Nearly 25 Academy Cadets are participating.
“The message of Dr. King is one which can never be forgotten,” said Mr. Aaron Barkley, Associate Dean of VFMA. “This is a generation-long removed from the events of Dr. King’s life, but we must continue to honor him and his courage, and safeguard the mission of an equal society regardless of race. It is an honor to accompany our cadets to participate in this distinguished event for them to have an opportunity to do their part in continuing the legacy of Dr. King.”
MLK Day itself is one of service, however, service at VFMAC is not reserved for just that one day of the year. The school and the Cadets have deep ties to the community around the Wayne campus.
Routine days of VFMA cadet service include caring for the Medal of Honor Grove at the Freedom Foundation in Valley Forge. They have worked in food banks and senior centers to prepare meals for the hungry and sort through donations. In the community of Wayne, the Cadets can be seen sweeping streets and picking up trash.
“VFMA Cadets have been a part of this community for nearly a century,” said Mr. Robert Rosato, VFMA history teacher and community service director. “People like to see them out and about, and our Cadets like to interact with members and merchants of the community.”
There is a clean-up route the Cadets follow in the town of Wayne. Beginning on North Wayne Avenue by the train station, they clean and sweep and pick up trash, turning right on Lancaster Avenue. They continue the clean-up along Lancaster Avenue up to the Wawa.
They refresh with sandwiches before crossing Lancaster Avenue and reversing the clean up on the other sides of the streets.
“Community service is consistent with the Five Cornerstones taught here at VFMA,” said Rosato. “Academic excellence, character development, personal motivation, physical development, and leadership are all learned and exhibited on MLK Day and every other day of the year. It is what society’s leaders do – and that is who our Cadets are going to become.”