Virginia Military Institute has begun the process of removing a statue dedicated to Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson.
On Monday, the VMI announced that the process of moving the statue from in front of the barracks on campus to the Virginia Museum of the Civil War and New Market Battlefield State Historical Park has started. Once the statue is removed, contractors will spend several days repairing the stone pedestal before it is moved to the museum. In total, the process will cost $209,000, and it will be paid for out of the VMI’s facility maintenance and operations budget.
“Though Jackson did not fight in the Battle of New Market, the Luray Gap of the Massanutten Mountain, which can be seen from the battlefield, played a strategic role in concealing his army’s movements against Union troops,” VMI historian, Col. Keith Gibson, class of 1977, said. “How fitting it is for the statue of Stonewall Jackson to look out over the Luray Gap, which played such an important part of his Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862.”
The statue will ultimately be placed in the roundabout in front of the museum, and the entire process is expected to be completed next summer or next fall.
The Board of Visitors voted to remove the statue in October. The announcement of the statue’s removal came days after the superintendent of the school, retired Gen. J.H Binford Peay II, announced his resignation after 17 years in the role. Peay said that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s chief of staff told him that the governor and other leaders wanted him to resign and had “lost confidence” in his leadership.
Peay previously defended the statue of Jackson and, in a July letter, told the VMI community that the school does “not currently intend to remove any VMI statues or rename any VMI buildings.”
Prior to the vote, Northam opened an independent investigation into accusations of institutional racism at the college, a school he graduated from. The probe was launched following the publication of a Washington Post article detailing black cadets’ encounters with racism at the VMI.
Statues dedicated to Confederate leaders have been the target of ire recently. Activists across the country have sought to bring down statues that are dedicated to Confederate officials or those who supported slavery. This gained scrutiny as an offshoot of the Black Lives Matter movement that sought to raise awareness of police brutality against people of color.
Some additional U.S. icons, including George Washington, have also been targeted during this time.
Author : Mike Brest
Source : Washington Examiner : Virginia Military Institute begins process of moving Stonewall Jackson statue to museum