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New law requires West Point to rename dorm, roads and gate named for Confederate generals

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point. (DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Sean K. Harp)

A new federal law requires West Point to rename structures and roads honoring Confederate generals, including a cadet dormitory that for 50 years has borne the name of the rebel commander Robert E. Lee.

The mandate comes through a provision in an annual defense bill that orders that the names of Confederate generals be stripped from all military properties. Congress members from both parties embraced that step over President Trump’s objections last year in the midst of the civil-rights awakening that followed the police killing of George Floyd.

Trump, who wanted military bases named after Confederate generals to keep those names, vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act last month partly for that reason. The House and Senate overrode his veto last week in what was the only veto override of the Trump presidency.

The new law requires that Confederate names be replaced within three years.

The handful of U.S. Military Academy properties that must be renamed include Lee Barracks — one of 10 campus dormitories — and a road and stone entrance gate that are also named for Lee, who attended West Point and was its superintendent for three years before he led troops against the United States during the Civil War.

The campus also has a road named after P.G.T. Beauregard, who served five days as West Point superintendent in 1861 before the South seceded and the Louisiana native lost his post. Three months later, he led the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina that started the Civil War.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, whose district includes West Point, had urged the army and defense secretaries to remove Confederate names at the academy in June in a letter co-signed by 21 House Democrats.

In that letter, Maloney argued that shedding the tributes to men “who engaged in armed rebellion against the United States in support of racism and slavery” would help ensure a “welcoming and inclusive” environment for West Point’s Black cadets.

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(c) 2021 The Times Herald-Record

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