State lawmakers urge removal of Confederate memorials at West Point

In a letter cosigned by 22 other congressional leaders, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney asked the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Army to remove all symbols honoring Confederates at West Point Military Academy.

News 12 Staff

Jun 19, 2020, 11:45 PM

Updated 1,435 days ago

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On the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, there's a push to free one of the nation's most prestigious military academies of its Confederate ties.
In a letter cosigned by 22 other congressional leaders, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney asked the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Army to remove all symbols honoring Confederates at West Point Military Academy.
"It is past time that we stop honoring at West Point people who betrayed their country and fought in support of slavery and racism," said Maloney.
West Point produced over 400 Civil War generals, a third of whom fought for the Confederacy.
Over 150 years later, names of those Confederate generals live on at West Point. This includes Robert E. Lee, who has a gate and barracks named after him along with portraits.

Maloney says this has been an issue for years.
"I think they're afraid of change. But here's what we're saying, if you fought against your own country, took up arms against the United States in support of racism and slavery, we're not gonna raise buildings after you," said Maloney.

Chris Jenks is a West Point graduate and retired lieutenant colonel for the U.S. Army. In 2017, he wrote an article questioning what honoring Confederate leaders says about the country.
"I'm not sure that we've ever really focused on why it is we named them that in the first place," said Jenks. "The irony is I believe there are more things named after General Lee than General Grant. General Grant just got a statue last year."

The Southern Poverty Law Center says there are more than 1,500 Confederacy symbols in public spaces. Many are in the South but not all, such as the ones in West Point.


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