On 19 December 2022, USMA Superintendent Steven Gilland emailed a letter to the Long Gray Line, informing West Point graduates that certain historical artifacts at West Point would be modified or removed. His letter, obediently sent by the West Point Association of Graduates (WPAOG), stated:
“During the holiday break, we will begin a multi-phased process, in accordance with
Department of Defense (DoD) directives, to remove, rename or modify assets and real
property at the United States Military Academy (USMA) and West Point installation that
commemorate or memorialize the Confederacy or those who voluntarily served with the Confederacy.
These directives are based on the recommendations by the Congressional Naming
Commission, mandated by the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. The
Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) approved the Commission's recommendations in October
2022 and directed implementation after an NDAA mandated 90-day waiting period, that
ended on December 18.
… We will also remove the bronze triptych at the main entrance of Bartlett Hall and
Place it in storage on post.”
Bartlett Hall Triptych: This monument’s fate is far more concerning than the others listed in LTG Gilland’s plan. Created by sculptor Laura Gardin Fraser, it was a 3-panel bronze mural that was dedicated in 1965. In September 2022, the USMA public affairs spokesperson seemed to defend the triptych, telling ABC News that the artist “wanted to create art that depicted ‘historical incidents or persons’ that symbolized the principled events of the time, thereby both documenting both tragedy and triumph in our nation’s history.” The PAO further stated that the monument "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 obscure but recently noticed KKK image on the mural was meant to show racism in the tapestry of history. The commission directed the removal of the images/naming of specific Confederate generals (Lee, Stuart, Jackson, and Brooke) but did not direct that the entire triptych be removed. The commission merely directed for certain items on the large mural to be modified. West Point, however, chose to completely remove the entire 3 panel mural and place it in storage. The 4 Confederate generals and KKK reference were only 5 objects on a large 3 panel mural. The mural was well known to cadets. The tiny Confederate and KKK references on it were not, however, well known. The central large figure of President Abraham Lincoln, though, had a well-worn sculpted head because cadets like myself used to rub the Lincoln head on the way to classes for luck. West Point has chosen to remove the entire mural that had references to Union victory, President Lincoln (the great Emancipator), WW2, and Korea because they are offensive. The revisionist targeting appears to have already spread beyond the Confederacy to key white figures in American history, even Union ones.
The summer of 2020 saw BLM led riots that resulted in monuments being vandalized, removed, and destroyed nationwide. Directly or indirectly supported by national Democrat elected officials, the carnage began with Confederate statues and quickly spread to Grant, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Wilson, WW1 memorials, and many other non-Confederate monuments. The only common thread was that the damaged/destroyed/removed memorabilia all concerned white historical figures in American history.
What was Abraham Lincoln’s offense in LTG Gilland’s eyes? Across America, Lincoln statues have been defaced and removed, schools with ‘Lincoln’ in their name have been renamed, and Lincoln’s reputation has been slandered by woke politicians and mobs. Clearly lacking courage and conviction, or even common sense, LTG Gilland has ordered Abraham Lincoln to be removed and placed in storage so cadets can no longer view his ‘reviled’ face or suffer the ‘shame’ of walking past such a ‘contemptuous’ figure in American history.
LTG Gilland exceeded the mandate for selective modification of the bronze triptych and instead condemned the entire artifact, including the most prominently featured item, the rendering of President Abraham Lincoln. This is the same Lincoln who was murdered for defeating the South and freeing the slaves. Gilland also continues the recent trend of West Point superintendents to ignore Freedom of Information Act requests and to deny CRT indoctrination at West Point. Last month, he quickly gave 5 cadets refusing the Covid-19 vaccine mandate General Officer Memorandums of Reprimand, despite knowing that very soon the mandate would likely be (and was) voted to be ended by Congress. Was he wanting to be on the record to curry favor with SECDEF Lloyd Austin who had been an outspoken proponent of the vaccine and by punishing ‘disobedient’ religious servicemembers? Perhaps LTG Gilland wants to appear even more obedient and woke than his predecessor, now GEN Darryl Williams, in hopes he too will garner praise and earn a 4th star. In the process, Gilland has willingly shown his hand and expanded his CRT enabled contempt for West Point and American history by cancelling one of the greatest presidents of the United States. You go, Steven. You and Brandon (and Lloyd) are best buds now.
John Hughes, MD
West Point Graduate, Veteran of Iraq/Afghanistan