At West Point, the nation’s oldest service academy, a portrait hangs of Gen. Robert E. Lee wearing his Confederate uniform. A gate and road on campus are both named for him, as are a number of other buildings and facilities — something a federally mandated panel recommends changin.
The Naming Commission, which is tasked with reviewing and changing military assets that memorialize Confederate figures, recommended removing names and depictions of Lee and other Confederate figures from both the Military Academy, often called West Point for its location, and Naval Academy.. The commission’s second and final report to Congress, released this week, is part of anto remove symbols of the Confederacy from government property.
Many of the new recommendations focused on the military academy, located in West Point, New York, where a number of campus facilities and some landmarks bear Lee’s name, as well as the names of other Confederate army generals. The portrait of Lee inside one of the academy’s buildings is among the “paraphernalia” unanimously recommended for removal by the commission.
The commission’s recommendations include a range of changes with estimated costs totaling more than $400,000. But there are still images and references to Lee, who served as superintendent of the school for a time, that the commission says can “remain in place” because they “strictly reflect his U.S. Army service as superintendent at West Point” and “do not conflate his Confederate service.”
The panel releasednine U.S. Army installations and is conducting a review of more than 750 Pentagon assets, including street names and signs, to decide whether they commemorate the Confederacy and need to be renamed. Once recommendations are finalized in October, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has a little more than a year to implement all of them. His deadline is January 2024.
The commission, which operates under a federal mandate laid out in defense spending legislation last year, said in its new report that recommendations were not made “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 report 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.”