West Point Removing Confederate Artifacts Including Robert E Lee Portrait

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point is starting to remove Confederate statues and symbols from its campus in compliance with a recent Defense Department order.
FILE - Lee Barracks is shown at the U.S. Military Academy, on Monday, July 13, 2020, in West Point, N.Y. The building is named for Civil War General Robert E. Lee, a West Point graduate who led the Confederate Army. The tributes to Lee that still dot the West Point campus illustrate the academy's dichotomy: The cadets who study military history are taught that Confederate soldiers were no heroes, yet the references to Lee remain. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

At a glance

  • The process of having to remove the Robert E. Lee portrait and the other Confederate iconography was set in motion this past summer with the meeting of the federally-mandate group known as the Naming Commission that issued recommendations calling for the removal such artifacts, the renaming of buildings and other campus properties.
  • The recommendations were officially approved this past October by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
  • Over this holiday break West Point, the country’s oldest service academy, launched what its superintendent described as a “multi-phased process” to either remove or modify displays that memorialize the Confederacy, which included putting a portrait of Robert E. Lee wearing a Confederate uniform into storage.
  • Lee, a U.S. military general appointed commander of the Confederate army toward the end of the Civil War, was a graduate and superintendent of West Point.
  • In addition to the portrait of Lee, West Point also is also removing bronze triptych that includes an image of a hooded figure appearing with the words “Ku Klux Klan.”

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