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Federal commission says portraits of Robert E. Lee at West Point should be removed

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The Naming Commission Final Report to Congress Part II: U.S. Military Academy and U.S. Naval Academy
Multiple fixtures at the Military Academy at West Point are named after Robert E. Lee including a barracks, a day care center, streets and gates.

A federal commission has recommended that certain portraits of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, be removed from the military academy at West Point. Lee was the school’s superintendent before the Civil War.

Portraits of Lee in his Confederate uniform should be removed but other portraits that depict Lee when he was a young Army major and superintendent of the academy can stay, according to a report from the Naming Commission.

The report also said a barracks, a day care center and other campus fixtures that commemorate Lee as a confederate general should be renamed.

"The Commissioners do not make these recommendations with any intention of 'erasing history,'" the report said. "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."

Congress authorized the commission last year to review any commemorations of the confederacy on defense department property. That sparked a discussion among West Point alumni about whether Lee’s service as superintendent before the Civil War deserves removal.

Desiree reports on the lives of military service members, veterans, and their families for WSHU as part of the American Homefront project. Born and raised in Connecticut, she now calls Long Island home.