Retired Brigadier General: The US Army has “Confederate problem”

Fort Bragg

Here is Ty Seidule, a former Brigadier General and history professor at West Point:

The army started honoring Confederates in the early 20th century and never stopped. The army’s flagship institution, West Point, honors Robert E. Lee with many different memorials, including a barracks. Most Lee memorials came about in the 1930s, 1950s, and early 1970s. Each of those periods saw an increase in racial integration. Confederate memorialization served as a way to buttress white supremacy and to protest equal rights. For instance, a Lee portrait in Confederate gray appeared in 1952 as a reaction to President Harry S. Truman’s order integrating the military. Prints created for the Army War College graduating classes featured pro-Confederate depictions through the 1990s. Almost inexplicably, West Point created memorials to Robert E. Lee in 2001 and 2002 as well. 

Finding the countless memorials that honor Confederates across hundreds of US military bases will be no small task. The Department of Defense will need to set up a task force to find Confederate memorials and either remove or rename them. 

The military has perhaps the most diverse workforce in the country. That is something to be proud of. Yet we must ensure that no one who volunteers to protect America works in a place named for someone who committed treason to protect slavery. Changing who we honor will not end racism in one fell swoop, but it’s not a bad place to start.

Read the entire piece at the American Historical Association blog Perspectives Daily.