Cadets at the United States Military Academy walked beneath a plaque commemorating the Ku Klux Klan for decades, according to a report released Monday.
The Naming Commission, a panel with the mandate to suggest the removal or renaming of DOD assets commemorating the Confederacy, noted the plaque, which depicts a hooded member of the white supremacist group holding a rifle with the words “Ku Klux Klan” underneath, in its report on buildings and other military assets named for Confederates or the Confederacy at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The plaque is mounted at the entrance of Bartlett Hall Science Center. (RELATED: POLL: 56% Of Americans Oppose Changing Confederate-Named Military Bases)
“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,” Cheryl L. Boujnida, chief of media relations for the United States Military Academy, told the Daily Caller News Foundation, providing a link to a series of photographs with explanations for the panels.
“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 principled events of that time, thereby documenting both tragedy and triumph in our nation’s history,” Boujinda continued. “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 commission did not recommend removing the plaque, since the Ku Klux Klan was formed after the Civil War and therefore outside its purview, according to The New York Times, but it noted its presence and included a picture.
“The reason that we put that in there was because we thought it was wrong,” Ty Seidule, a retired Army brigadier general who serves as vice chairman of the panel, told the NYT. “When we find something that’s wrong, but it’s not within our remit, we wanted to tell the secretary of defense about that.”
West Point should remove KKK plaque on science building: congressional panel https://t.co/IRHL4Htl08 pic.twitter.com/t5kdHRYMoA
— New York Post (@nypost) August 31, 2022
Two other plaques at the entrance of Bartlett Hall featured Confederate generals, including Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart, according to the commission’s report. The commission recommended that the plaques “be modified to remove the names and images from the panels that specifically commemorate individuals who voluntarily served in the Confederacy.”
The Naming Commission’s report also targeted the Reconciliation Plaza, which was installed in 2001 to commemorate acts between 1861 and 1913 that were seen as “examples of reconciliation,” due to its depictions of some Confederate generals. The plaza was a gift from the United States Military Academy’s class of 1961, according to the Historical Marker Database.
“Congress provided the Commission clear guidelines in Section 370 of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act prescribing the types of items it must include in its final report – specifically, Department of Defense assets that commemorate the Confederate States of America or anyone who voluntarily served under the Confederate States of America,” Stephen Baker, Director of Public Affairs for the Naming Commission, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The components of Reconciliation Plaza included in second part of the report clearly fell within this remit.”
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