Virginia Military Institute Will Not Be Removing Confederate Statues: “We cannot eliminate our history nor do we desire to do so”

During this time of civil unrest and the calls among activists for the removal of Confederate monuments across the nation, The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is standing their ground and will not be removing any Confederate statues or renaming any of their campus buildings named after Confederate leaders.

In a letter directed to VMI cadets and faculty on Wednesday, the school’s superintendent Retired General J.H. Bindford Peay III began with stating, “This is a season of change in America with social unrest…these social issues were sparked by the wrongful death of George Floyd, which ignited frustrations resulting in desires by many to take new action in response..Today’s movement is calling upon all of us to do more.”

Peay listed four goals and actions that the college will be taking during this nationwide movement which include: to retain the foundation of values and principles set in the Institute’s early years which will shift the emphasis and celebrations to the remarkable history of the second century; enhance recruiting and meet the need for a more diverse faculty; provide greater historical and leadership education for the cadets and a civil and respected environment on post; and provide greater access to our alumni network for all graduates.

“As an institution that was founded in the early 1800s there are obvious historical elements that we cannot change. Today, we make the best decisions we can, trusting that future generations will be equally respectful of our best attempts to do the right and courageous things.  I hope you will see that these four goals and five pillars take us positively to the future and address in deeper ways racism and equity than the simple means of removing statues and renaming buildings.  We cannot eliminate our history nor do we desire to do so.  Instead, we desire to build upon our past and will do our part to continue to build a strong Institute,” Peay stated.

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