Congressional Naming Commission Report

Congressional Naming Commission Report

Message from the Superintendent

Long Gray Line Teammates and the West Point Community:


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.

These directives are based on the recommendations by the Congressional Naming
Commission, mandated by the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act
(NDAA). The Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) approved the Commission's
recommendations in October 2022 and directed implementation after an NOAAmandated
90-day waiting period, that ended on December 18.

Read the full message here.

About the Naming Commission Final Report

The William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Public Law No: 116-283) [hereafter FY21 NDAA], at Title III Operation and Maintenance, Subtitle E Other Matters, Section 370, directed the establishment of a commission relating to assigning, modifying, or removing of names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia to assets of the Department of Defense (DoD) that commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America.

As mandated by Section 370, the Commission is comprised of eight members – four appointed by the Secretary of Defense, one appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), one appointed by the Ranking Member of the SASC, one appointed by the Chair man of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), and one appointed by the Ranking Member of the HASC. Section 370 at subsection (c) requires the Commission to perform the five duties related to the assigning, modifying, or removing of Confederacy-affiliated names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia within the Department of Defense.

About the U.S. Military Academy at West Point

The U.S. Military Academy's mission is to build, educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets to be commissioned leaders of character committed to the Army Values and ready for a lifetime of service to the Army and Nation. 

Background


West Point ranks amongst the oldest and most venerated of our national institutions. In seniority it surpasses the Smithsonian, the National Parks, and all but four Executive departments. Likewise, it holds a high rank and prominent place among American educational institutions – few colleges surpass it in its tenure of service or in the achievements of its graduates. Its storied history serving the defense of the United States makes it especially incongruent for Confederate commemoration.

On the grounds of West Point, future soldiers train amidst the memories of past leaders. Cadets live in barracks named after Ulysses Grant, Douglas MacArthur, John Pershing, Benjamin O. Davis, William Sherman, and Winfield Scott. Throughout the grounds, plaques adorn almost every building and entrance, honoring the names and lives of West Point graduates who demonstrated exceptional devotion to the defense of the United States and the advancement of its ideals.

 

Commemorating the Confederacy alongside those graduates honors men who fought against the United States of America, and whose cause sought to destroy the nation as we know it.

The Commissioners do not make these recommendations with any intention of erasing history. The facts of the past remain and the Commissioners are confident the history of the Civil War will continue to be taught at all service academies with all the quality and complex detail our national past deserves. 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.

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.

Confederacy-Affiliated Assets

The Commission identified a number of Confederacy-affiliated assets that require renaming, relocating, modification or removal that include: Hardee Place, Beauregard Place, Lee Barracks, Lee Housing Area, Lee Area Child Development Center, Lee Road, Lee Gate, portrait of Robert E. Lee in Confederate uniform, Reconciliation Plaza, Honor Plaza monument, historical triptych at the entrance of Bartlett Hall. 

 

Congressional Naming Commission FAQs

There is a triptych (three bronze panels) at one of the entrances of Bartlett Hall that depicts the history of the United States. The artwork was dedicated on June 3, 1965, and each panel measures 11’ X 5’ each. As part of the middle panel titled “One Nation, Under God, Indivisible,” there is a small section that shows a Ku Klux Klan member.

The artist, Laura Gardin Fraser (Sept 14, 1889 – Aug 13, 1966), was an American sculptor who was commissioned to design the panels and wanted to create art that depicted “historical incidents or persons” that symbolized the principal events of that time, thereby documenting both tragedy and triumph in our nation’s history.

Among many other symbols, the triptych also includes individuals who were instrumental in shaping principal events of that time, and symbols like the “Tree of Life” that depict how our nation has flourished despite its tragedies. The artwork was originally dedicated to West Point graduates who served in World War II and Korea.

The academy strives to graduate diverse leaders of character for our Nation.

The academy will remove the portrait of Robert E. Lee in Confederate uniform from Jefferson Hall, the U.S. Military Academy's library, and place it in storage at the West Point Museum. Concurrently, we will also move the accompanying portrait of Ulysses S. Grant from the library to Grant Hall.

Ultimately, the Commission’s recommendations and West Point's actions are not intended to erase history, but rather, to affirm the academy’s long tradition of educating, training, and inspiring leaders of character who represent the best of our national ideals, our Army Values and the West Point ideals of Duty, Honor, Country. As an institution charged with developing the next generation of leaders for the Army and our nation, we do not shy away from difficult conversations and will continue teaching our Nation’s history, with all its tragedies and triumphs and never forgetting the sacrifices made by so many along the way.

The process of renaming buildings and infrastructures on the West Point installation is a deliberate and extensive that is conducted with the intent to determine appropriate names that best exemplify our Army Values and national and West Point ideals of Duty, Honor, Country.

Led by West Point’s Memorialization, History, and Museum Committee, the selection process is consistent with the approach of the DoD Naming Commission, as well as Army and West Point memorialization regulations, to ensure that names considered by the committee appropriately reflect the courage, values, and sacrifices and demographics of our graduates and those who served in our Armed Forces. Consideration is given to local significance of names and their potential to motivate and inspire future cadets. 

Army and West Point’s memorialization regulations provide the Academy Superintendent the authority for all naming decisions consequent to the DoD Naming Commission Report; however, all decisions will be briefed to the Department of the Army prior to final implementation.

By the end of this year, West Point’s Memorialization, History, and Museum Committee will recommend names to replace the streets, buildings, and areas throughout West Point currently named for individuals who served in the Confederacy, specifically:

  • Lee Road, Beauregard Place, and Hardee Place
  • Lee Barracks (currently under renovation)
  • Lee Housing Area
  • Lee Child Development Center

Once replacement names are selected and approved, we will begin the renaming process in early 2023.

The U.S. Military Academy's goal is to complete these actions by the end of May 2023. West Point will conduct these actions with dignity and respect. In the case of those items that were class gifts (specifically, Honor Plaza and Reconciliation Plaza), we will work closely with those classes and honor their contributions to their alma mater, while maintaining clear and open communication with them, and all our alumni, throughout this process.

Please continue to check back to this page for updates regarding the academy's efforts and progress.