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The 220-year-old U.S. military academy said it had begun a “multi-phase” process over the holiday break to remove all 13 references and monuments that West Point says honor the Confederacy, including a portrait and bust of former West Point Superintendent Gen. Robert E. Lee, CNN reported. The removal is in response to an October order from the Department of Defense (DOD) mandated in the National Defense Authorization Act.
“During the holiday break, we will begin a multi-phased process, in accordance with Department of Defense (DoD) directives, to remove, rename or modify assets and real property at the United States Military Academy (USMA) and West Point installation that commemorate or memorialize the Confederacy or those who voluntarily served with the Confederacy,” Lt. Gen. Steve Gilland wrote in a letter to the West Point community.
Along with Lee’s portrait and bust, West Point is also replacing a quote from the southern general that is displayed at the campus’ Honor Plaza. Gilland wrote that a committee will determine a new quote that will replace Lee’s quote by the spring of 2023.
At least three roads and three buildings on campus named after those who fought for the Confederacy will also be renamed by the spring of next year.
Lee’s portrait that was on display in the library will be moved to storage at the West Point Museum, while Lee’s bust is being moved to other storage, the general explained. A bronze triptych that includes Lee and other Confederate soldiers along with the words “Ku Klux Klan” will also be sent to storage “until a more suitable location is determined.”
“We will conduct these actions with dignity and respect,” Gilland wrote.
A massive outcry against Confederate monuments hit the nation following the death of George Floyd in May of 2020, resulting in numerous statues being taken down. In September of 2021, the largest Confederate monument on display in the U.S., a statue of Lee, was taken down in Richmond, Virginia.
Earlier this month, the city of Richmond dug up the remains of Confederate General A.P. Hill as it continues to purge Confederate symbols and monuments from public spaces.