For decades, the students at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York have walked beneath a panel of three bronze plaques mounted at the entrance of Bartlett Hall Science Center that includes an image of a hooded figure and the words “Ku Klux Klan” written below it, according to findings in a report released by a congressional panel on Monday.
The report from the panel, the Naming Commission, which was created by Congress last year and tasked with providing recommendations for the removal or renaming of Defense Department assets that commemorate the Confederacy, included multiple suggestions regarding paintings, statues and other items at West Point as well as at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
wrote a book last year trying to understand why the Military Academy still displayed a portrait of Lee, who graduated from West Point but resigned his Army commission to fight with the Confederacy. The commission unanimously recommended that the portrait of Lee, in Confederate uniform and displayed in Jefferson Hall Library, be modified or removed.
suggested new names last year for nine Army bases that honor Confederate officers. That effort led to the renaming of a street in New York City’s only Army post after a Black officer who died saving other soldiers in Vietnam.
The commission’s first report, released earlier this month, focused on Army bases. A third report, due before Oct. 1, will include recommendations for all remaining Department of Defense assets. The secretary of defense has until Jan. 1, 2024, to implement a plan submitted by the commission.
The commission recommended several monuments, portraits and engraved images that depicted Confederate officers to be removed, relocated, renamed or modified at West Point and the Naval Academy.
The cost estimates to implement the changes at West Point ranged from $1,000, for modifications, to $300,000 for the removal of monuments and engravings at Reconciliation Plaza, which was built in 2001.
Before making its recommendations in its recent reports, the commission examined an inventory, created by the Department of Defense, listing assets throughout the country that were named after Confederate officers or that contained images depicting Confederate officers, General Seidule said.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who co-sponsored a measure that would require the secretary of defense to remove anything that commemorates the Confederacy, said she would work to ensure that Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III implements the commission’s recommendations.