Aug 30, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Panel recommends removing Confederate names from military schools

Cadets outside the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2016 in New York.
West Point. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

A congressional commission reviewing military property named after Confederate leaders recommended Monday that West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy rename structures that commemorate the Civil War figures.

Why it matters: The commission's recommendations, which include removing depictions of and dedications to Gen. Robert E. Lee from West Point, are part of a broader effort to rename military installations that bore the names of Confederate military officers.

What they're saying: In the second part of its final report to Congress, the Naming Commission wrote that the commissioners did "not make these recommendations with any intention of 'erasing history.'"

  • "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," it added.
  • "Cadets of the present who devote their lives to national service should do so in an environment and setting that honors the greatest examples, traditions, and leaders of our past."
  • The commission is made up of several former military officials and is chaired by Michelle Janine Howard, a retired U.S. Navy four-star admiral.

The big picture: The commission specifically recommended that the Army rename a barracks, a housing area, a child development center, a road, and a gate named after Lee at West Point. It also recommended removing a portrait of the general currently displayed in Jefferson Hall, the library.

  • "No doubts exist that Robert E. Lee fought for the Confederacy: he was its most effective and storied leader, and by the end of the Civil War, Lee had risen to General in Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States," the commission wrote.
  • "Lee’s armies were responsible for the deaths of more United States Soldiers than practically any other enemy in our nation’s history," the commission said.
  • It also recommended West Point remove honors for Confederate Gens. P.G.T. Beauregard and William Hardee.
  • As for the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., the commission said the Navy should rename two buildings and a road named after Confederate Adm. Franklin Buchanan and Matthew Maury, a Confederate naval officer who "viewed African Americans as unworthy of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness."

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