A report examining the four service academies and other military colleges found that while the Naval Academy in Annapolis had three symbols of the Confederacy, other military colleges had as many as dozens on their campus.
The Southern Poverty Law Center report, which also listed symbols off military institutions, listed Maury Hall, Buchanan House and Buchanan Road as parts of the installation with connections to the Confederacy.
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Naval Academy are the two service academies with Confederate symbols. The center did not find any at the Air Force or Coast Guard academies.
West Point has five symbols, four of which are dedicated to Confederate general Robert E. Lee, including its barracks. A sixth symbol — a scholarship also named after Lee — was removed in 2018, according to the SPLC.
The report also examined Virginia Military Institute, which had the most symbols at approximately 30, and The Citadel in South Carolina, which had 20. One of Virginia Military Institute’s symbols has already been removed, and three are pending removal or renaming.
Confederate symbols on military institutions are particularly egregious because the Confederate Army fought against the United States, said SPLC Chief of Staff Lecia Brooks, citing historian Matthew Delmont.
“It’s not just memorializing a street corner, or the site of a specific battle, or even a school named after someone in some small town,” Delmont told the SPLC, according to Brooks’ email. The military is meant to represent the entire country. The Confederate flag is not a symbol that represents the country.”
The symbols can also be offensive to Black cadets and midshipmen, as they are reminders of white supremacy and hatred, Brooks said.
The SPLC has called for all Confederate-linked names to be removed. Under new legislation that’s part of the National Defense Authorization Act, the names at military institutions may be removed within the next three years.
“We hope that service academies will remove all vestiges of the Confederacy, which includes renaming the roads and buildings honoring Confederates,” Brooks said in her email. “They might consider naming them after notable African American alumni who have embodied the values of those institutions.”
At the academy, Buchanan House and Buchanan Road are named for Franklin Buchanan, who was the first superintendent. Buchanan joined the Confederacy after resigning from his commission as commandant of the Washington Navy Yard due to his belief that Maryland, his home state, would secede from the Union, according to his Navy biography.
Maury Hall is named after oceanographer Matthew Fontaine Maury, who fought for the Confederacy.
Both Maury Hall and Buchanan House have been under scrutiny in the past year after representatives from Maryland called for the buildings to be renamed.
Maury also has a presence at Virginia Military Institute, which has two buildings, a plaque and a statue dedicated to him.
The National Defense Authorization Act called for a Naming Commission, which is made up of members appointed by the secretary of Defense and members of Congress. The commission has already visited West Point and is expected to visit the Naval Academy in August. It is not clear if it will visit Virginia Military Institute or The Citadel since they are not military installations.
The commission has three years to visit military installations and review infrastructure with names linked to the Confederacy, said Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Prince George’s, who pushed for the provision in the defense authorization act.
The commission will also come up with a timeline for renaming infrastructure with removed names, Brown said.
Like the SPLC, Brown said it is important for service academies, especially, to not have symbols of the Confederacy because midshipmen and cadets come to learn how to be leaders in the military.
“And I think it’s very important at that early stage in their life that they don’t believe that somehow the Confederacy and what it stood for was honorable or noble and worthy of commemorating,” Brown said.
There is a difference between studying the Civil War leaders, including their military tactics, and honoring them. He pointed to the Robert E. Lee Barracks at West Point as an example. Cadets should study Lee, he said, but the Confederate general does not need to be commemorated with a building.
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The naming commission will have to make some difficult decisions when it comes to Confederate symbols at the academies, he said. A memorial to fallen midshipmen, including those who served in the Confederate forces, may be appropriate if it is not glorifying, he said.
There is a difference between educating and commemorating when it comes to the symbols on service academies, and the Naming Commission will have to determine which pieces of infrastructure, statues or plaques glorify the Confederacy and which ones, if any, teach, he said.
When it comes to people like Lee, Maury or Buchanan, their accomplishments outside of the Civil War do not counteract their betrayal to the country, Brown said. By joining the Confederacy, they committed an act of treason.
That disqualifies them from lending their name to any piece of infrastructure on military installations, despite their accomplishments before or after they served in the Confederate military, he said.
The three symbols at the Naval Academy are among the 12 the SPLC identified in Maryland. Of the 12, there are two buildings, five roadways and five monuments, according to the nonprofit. An additional seven symbols have already been removed.
Maury Hall, Buchanan House and Buchanan Road are the only ones in Anne Arundel County. The state song and a Sons of Confederate Veterans Commemorative license plate, which no longer exist, were listed under Annapolis by the SPLC.
Montgomery County and Baltimore each have four symbols, while Talbot County has one.