West Point begins eradicating Confederate symbols, together with Robert E. Lee portrait, from campus show


The U.S. Military Academy at West Point is beginning to take away Confederate statues and symbols from its campus, in compliance with a federal order formally set in movement by the Department of Defense this previous October. 

Over the vacation break, which started on Dec. 18, the nation’s oldest service academy launched what its superintendent described as a “multi-phased process” to both take down or modify shows that memorialize the Confederacy, together with an instantaneous plan to maneuver a portrait of Robert E. Lee sporting a Confederate uniform into storage.

Lee, as soon as a U.S. navy common who was in the end appointed commander of the Confederate military towards the tip of the Civil War, was a graduate and superintendent of West Point and lingered as a big presence on the academy’s New York State campus for greater than a century after his loss of life. In addition to the portrait of Lee displayed in Jefferson Hall, West Point additionally has a stone bust of his likeness, bronze plaques devoted to him and different Confederate figures, and a gate, highway, and sequence of educational amenities bearing his identify.

West Point is eradicating the portrait, stone bust and bronze triptych over the vacation break, stated Lt. General Steven Gilland, the academy’s superintendent, in a statement saying the adjustments. In addition to Lee, the bronze triptych contains a picture of a hooded determine showing with the phrases “Ku Klux Klan.”

Both the portrait and stone bust of Lee shall be positioned in storage on the academy, based on Gilland, whereas the bronze triptych can be saved as effectively “until a more suitable location is determined” for it.

West Point Confederate History
Lee Barracks, named for Civil War General Robert E. Lee, is proven on the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, on July 13, 2020, in West Point, New York.

Mark Lennihan / AP

The navy academy will even exchange a quote from Lee at the moment displayed in one of many campus plazas with “an appropriate quote about honor” that the varsity intends to pick, with enter from the Class of 1957, within the coming weeks, Gilland stated. West Point will evaluation a sequence of stone markers displayed in one other campus plaza that commemorate the Confederacy, and “modify those markers with appropriate language and images” beginning within the spring. 

Gilland moreover famous adjustments to West Point property bearing Lee’s identify, which he stated are attributable to take impact by the tip of subsequent yr. They embrace renaming roads in addition to a number of buildings and faculty amenities, like a dormitory and little one improvement heart.

“We will conduct these actions with dignity and respect,” Gilland stated within the assertion. “In the case of those items that were class gifts (specifically, Honor Plaza and Reconciliation Plaza), we will continue to work closely with those classes throughout this process. Any costs associated with the Commission’s recommendations will be resourced within the Department of Defense.”

The push to take away Confederate memorabilia at West Point comes amid wider calls to alter or take down commemorative symbols of the Confederacy on authorities properties throughout the nation. 

Specific steerage given to West Point was decided by a federally-mandated panel, referred to as the Naming Commission, that issued suggestions for the elimination of Confederate artifacts and renaming of buildings and different campus properties on the finish of August. Those suggestions have been formally permitted by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin this previous October.

Congress created the Naming Commission final yr to evaluation, and create suggestions to alter, symbols honoring the Confederacy at West Point in addition to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The fee’s August report primarily referred to as for adjustments at West Point and famous that it was not created “with any intention of ‘erasing history.’”

“The facts of the past remain and the commissioners are confident the history of the Civil War will continue to be taught at all service academies with all the quality and complex detail our national past deserves,” the fee stated. “Rather, they make these recommendations to affirm West Point’s long tradition of educating future generations of America’s military leaders to represent the best of our national ideals.”


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