Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Spirit of Greenbrier Military School Lives on at Fork Union

 Eric Nelson, Greenbrier Military School Class of 1947, helps attach the Greenbrier Cadet cord to the uniform of his grandson, Cadet Robert "Bo" Barnes.

This weekend, the alumni of Greenbrier Military School are holding their annual reunion in Lewisburg, West Virginia. At first, this might not seem like a remarkable event; many schools host reunions for alumni. But the Greenbrier Military School annual alumni reunion remains a testament to the strong personal bonds formed in a boys only, military-style, boarding school environment. These men of Greenbrier are committed to each other, and committed to seeing that their school, and the values it stood for, will not be forgotten. You see, Greenbrier graduated its last class of cadets in 1972 and closed its doors forever. Yet the school's special spirit lives on, both in these annual reunions held in Lewisburg, as well as in a unique relationship built in recent years with a former arch rival, Fork Union Military Academy.

Like many traditional military schools during the 1960s and early 1970s, Greenbrier was unable to weather the changes taking place in the country. The military was falling out of favor in a society that was tired of the war in Vietnam. Permissiveness and nonconformity were the new rules of the culture. With enrollment dropping and debts increasing, Greenbrier Military School, like their sports rivals Staunton Military Academy and Augusta Military Academy, found itself without the finances needed to make it through the lean times.

A nation that once had as many as 400 military-style private schools, today has far fewer than 40.

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