West Point Begins Removal, Alteration of Confederate Memorials on Campus

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The U.S. Military Academy astatine West Point has commenced the removal and modification of 13 Confederate memorials and symbols connected its field astatine the absorption of the Department of Defense.

The modifications—recommended by the congressionally mandated Naming Commission and subsequently approved by the Defense Department successful October—were to statesman implicit the school’s vacation break, which started connected Dec. 18.

“Academy leaders and cardinal stakeholders developed a broad program to guarantee that humanities artifacts volition beryllium professionally and respectfully handled during the execution phase,” the schoolhouse said successful a Dec. 19 statement. “Memorabilia removed during this process volition beryllium relocated to due sites, including museums oregon different suitable venues.”

According to a missive (pdf) signed by Lt. Gen. Steve Gilland, superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy, items to beryllium placed successful retention includes a representation of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee that hung successful the academy’s library, Jefferson Hall; a chromatic bust of Lee from Reconciliation Plaza; and a bronze triptych from the main entranceway of Bartlett Hall.

Meanwhile, the representation and the chromatic bust of Union Gen. Ulysses Grant that person traditionally accompanied those of Lee volition beryllium moved to Grant Hall.

By Spring 2023, the schoolhouse besides intends to regenerate a punctuation from Lee displayed astatine Honor Plaza and statesman refacing prime chromatic markers astatine Reconciliation Plaza with modified connection and images.

Several streets, buildings, and areas astir the West Point field are besides slated to beryllium renamed, including Lee Road, Beauregard Place, Hardee Place, Lee Barracks, Lee Housing Area, and Lee Child Development Center.

“We volition behaviour these actions with dignity and respect,” Gilland wrote successful the letter. “In the lawsuit of those items that were people gifts (specifically, Honor Plaza and Reconciliation Plaza), we volition proceed to enactment intimately with those classes passim this process. Any costs associated with the Commission’s recommendations volition beryllium resourced wrong the Department of Defense.”

The History

The U.S. Military Academy astatine West Point, New York, was founded successful 1802 nether President Thomas Jefferson.

The schoolhouse churned retired hundreds of graduates who fought for some the Union and Confederate armies, including Grant, successful the people of 1843 and Lee successful 1829.

Lee, who became commandant of the Confederate Army toward the extremity of the Civil War, graduated 2nd successful his people astatine West Point and aboriginal served arsenic the school’s superintendent from 1852 to 1855.

Calls for Revisions

Established nether the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2021, the Naming Commission was created to assign, modify, oregon region names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia wrong the Department of Defense that commemorate the Confederacy oregon those who voluntarily fought for the Confederate Army.

On Aug. 29, the eight-member committee submitted Part II of its last study to Congress (pdf), which addressed assets of the U.S. Military Academy and U.S. Naval Academy.

“Throughout the [West Point] grounds, plaques adorn astir each gathering and entrance, honoring the names and lives of West Point graduates who demonstrated exceptional devotion to the defence of the United States and the advancement of its ideals,” the commissioners wrote successful their report. “Commemorating the Confederacy alongside those graduates honors men who fought against the United States of America, and whose origin sought to destruct the federation arsenic we cognize it.”

In defending their recommendations relating to assets named aft Lee, the commissioners noted that the wide turned down the accidental to service arsenic the apical tract commandant for the Union Army, opting alternatively to articulation the Confederates.

“The consequences of his decisions were wide-ranging and destructive,” they added. “Lee’s armies were liable for the deaths of much United States Soldiers than practically immoderate different force successful our nation’s history.”

As for the triptych, the commissioners called for the removal of the names of respective Confederate soldiers. Additionally, acknowledging that the triptych’s depiction of a hooded Ku Klux Klansman did not autumn nether their purview, the commissioners besides encouraged the caput of defence to “address DoD assets that item the KKK successful Defense Memorialization processes and make a modular disposition request for specified assets.”

“The Commissioners bash not marque these recommendations with immoderate volition of erasing history,” the commissioners noted. “The facts of the past stay and the Commissioners are assured the past of the Civil War volition proceed to beryllium taught astatine each work academies with each the prime and analyzable item our nationalist past deserves. Rather, they marque these recommendations to affirm West Point’s agelong contented of educating aboriginal generations of America’s subject leaders to correspond the champion of our nationalist ideals.”

Reactions

West Point’s announcement has been met with mixed reactions from those who person served successful the nation’s equipped forces, with immoderate supporting the changes and others decrying them.

For instance, weighing successful connected Twitter, retired U.S. Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey wrote: “Fully enactment removing each symbols that grant Confederate leaders. This astir unspeakable of American wars was solely driven by the enslavement of Black Americans.”

Retired U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Montgomery Granger, however, took the other perspective.

“The ignorance is stunning,” helium wrote. “My ancestors were Union, but aft Lee’s surrender, Grant told his troops, ‘The Rebels are our countrymen again.’ Profound. Historical. Now fleeting.”

Updates connected West Point’s multi-phased removal and modification of Confederate symbols and memorials volition beryllium posted connected the school’s website.

Samantha Flom

Samantha Flom is simply a newsman for The Epoch Times covering U.S. authorities and news. A postgraduate of Syracuse University, she has a inheritance successful journalism and nonprofit communications. Contact her astatine [email protected].