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VMI Relocating Stonewall Jackson Statue From Campus To Museum

VMI aerial view
The barracks at Virginia Military Institute Wednesday on July 15, 2020, in Lexington, Va. The school, founded in 1839, is the oldest state-supported military college in the United States. (Photo: Steve Helber/AP News)

Virginia Military Institute is beginning the process of removing a statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson from campus Monday. It will be moved to the Virginia Museum of the Civil War and New Market Battlefield State Historical Park and positioned on the roundabout in front of the museum. 

According to a statement from VMI, contractors will spend the coming days repairing the stone pedestal before the statue is moved from its current location. The project will cost the school $209,000, which will come out of its facility maintenance and operations account. 

Officials estimate all of the work will be completed next summer or fall. 

The VMI Board of Visitors voted in October to remove the bronze statue around the same time that the institute came under fire for accusations of widespread racism. 

In a Washington Post article, Black cadets described lynching threats and confederate glorification. The reports led to the long-time superintendent resigning and prompted Governor Ralph Northam to order an investigation into the school’s culture and practices. 

VMI has pledged to hire a chief diversity officer and create a permanent diversity and inclusion committee among other actions to address the complaints. 

VMI historian, Col. Keith Gibson, said the new location provides important historical context to the statue.

“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,” Gibson 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 was given to VMI in 1912 by sculptor Sir Moses Ezekiel who was the institute’s first Jewish cadet and a veteran of the Battle of New Market.

VMI Interim Superintendent Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins said in a statement that Jackson’s story will continue to be told at this new location.

“VMI does not define itself by this statue and that is why this move is appropriate,” Wins said. “We are defined by our unique system of education and the quality and character of the graduates the Institute produces. Our graduates embody the values of honor, respect, civility, self-discipline, and professionalism. This is how we will continue to be defined.”

Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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