By Buddy Blouin
The standards set by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy are there to push those who serve to be all that they can be. They are standards in place to create not only an elite fighting force but also an honorable one. Our past isn’t perfect, but it is important; however, calls are growing to rename many of the landmarks tied to the alumni of both the U.S. Naval Academy and West Point who fought for the Confederacy.

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Naming Commission Considering Renaming U.S. Naval Academy & West Point Landmarks

The Naming Commission recommends Army and Naval academies scrap names of Confederate alumni as it continues its plan for the Secretary of Defense to "remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America from all assets of the Department of Defense." Many landmarks are being reviewed by the Naming Commission after being established by Congress in 2021. So far, the primary focus of the commission has been on military installations. Specifically, there have been calls to change the names of Fort Bragg and Fort Lee. But now, both the U.S. Naval Academy and West Point are in the eyes of the commission. These recommendations range from the names of roads and buildings to landmarks and portraits of Confederate leaders. West Point's Reconciliation Plaza is another notable suggestion for change by the Naming Commission. To commemorate 100 years since the start of the Civil War, the West Point class of 1961 donated the plaza to celebrate the reconciliation of our nation to the academy.

Racist Landmark or Media Hype?

Various headlines have pointed out that West Point has a KKK plaque mounted above the entrance to the science hall. On the surface, this seems like an obvious oversight that needs to be corrected. But diving deeper, you’ll notice that things may be more complex than they first appear. Far be it for us to stick up for the Ku Klux Klan, and we're not about to start, but as pointed out by Brigade Board’s Instagram page, there’s more to this than a single plaque dedicated to a racist terrorist organization.
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The overarching theme of the plaque in question is actually a monument to remembering the history of the U.S. military. Certainly, the Civil War and the creation of the KKK by ex-Confederate troops are far from the highlights, but it’s our history, nonetheless. And one of the biggest reasons for remembering our history is so that we're never doomed to repeat it. Where people fall on such topics has been a political battlefield growing hotter and hotter over the last decade or so. Many southern states have had statues, roads, buildings, and more removed or renamed as a result. While the commission did recommend some renaming points of focus, it’s interesting to see that they felt this didn’t warrant a change. Equally as interesting is that some outlets failed to adequately address that the reason may lie in the fact that there’s more to the plaque than is being presented. Overall, both West Point and the United States Naval Academy will have some choices to make, including what to do about a plaque featuring a racist organization, but backlash to preserve history still remains. Two other plaques that are above the entrance of the Bartlett Hall Science Center celebrate Confederate figures. Among them are Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Both of these plaques have been flagged for review by the Naming Commission.

U.S. Naval Academy & West Point Students Deserve Equality

Creating future leaders of the Army and Navy is no easy task. The U.S. Naval Academy and West Point both do so, however, by getting the best out of their students. But if you’re going to have a learning institution, it needs to be a place that's safe for all. Equality is a basic standard that should be in place, and those who attend should be in an environment conducive to education for all. The U.S. Naval Academy and West Point aren’t getting “canceled.” They aren’t going away, and they’ll continue to serve as important cogs in the military machine. There may not be a clear-cut, easy answer, but above all, ideas for renaming and equality in the present is a standard no one can afford to let slip by.

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