Missouri Military Academy celebrates 125th homecoming

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MEXICO - Cadets and alumni gathered at the Missouri Military Academy to celebrate the school's 125th annual homecoming. Cadets marched in the Battalion Review and the school also dedicated a cannon used in the Civil War.

Many cadets and alumni said their favorite part of the day was the battalion review. Former MMA students were challenged to remember marching formations and orders in front of an audience of hundreds. Former U.S. Senator and Missouri Governor Kit Bond said reviewing the current and former students was his favorite part of the day.

"Reviewing the troops and seeing how well-disciplined they are and finding out that these are young men from all over the world," Bond said. "It's truly an international group learning and getting the education and the discipline of what I believe is one of the top military academies in the nation." 

After the review, school officials dedicated a Civil War cannon used while General Ulysses S. Grant was in Missouri. They said the cannon represents the school's legacy. While there used to be hundreds of all-male military academies, officials said there are less than 20 today.

D'Cherion Nelson, MMA Battalion Commander, said homecoming weekend is all about showing appreciation for the alumni.

"It shows that you haven't forgotten about them," Nelson said. "It shows we respect them and we like what they do. Also they donate money to the school, so we do things like this to say basically we still remember them, and we still care for them, and we still love them. We haven't forgotten."

Alumni said even decades after graduation, they still enjoy coming back to MMA.

"Any time you come back to MMA and you see the cadets march out on the field, the blood kind of gets going and you get that same feeling that you had 30, 40, 50 years ago when we were doing exactly the same thing," Dean Davison, class of 1978 alumnus, said. "It's just a pretty powerful experience."

Gregg Center, Battalion Commander of the class of 1991, drove from Florida to attend the MMA homecoming. He said his former classmates were more than just his friends.

"This is where we grew up and where we went from boys to men," Center said. "This is the first place that felt like home to me. All these guys are my friends and my brothers. Even if I don't know them by name, I know that they're a part of my extended family."

Gregg said last year's class of 42 cadets earned over $5 million in scholarships. The school also boasts a 100% college acceptance rate. Cadet Jose Garcia said MMA helped him improve his grades while teaching him valuable life lessons.

"I've been here four years, and I didn't expect that at all," Garcia said. "I thought I was only coming for one year. But I told my parents that I thought it would be the best place for me, and I think it was one of the best choices I've ever made."

The homecoming celebration continues throughout the weekend. A full schedule of events is on the academy's website.