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VMI removes Stonewall Jackson statue

Published: Dec. 7, 2020 at 8:25 AM EST
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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ/VMI Release) - Virginia Military Institute has begun the process of moving the Stonewall Jackson statue from the front of barracks to the Virginia Museum of the Civil War and New Market Battlefield State Historical Park.

The Board of Visitors at Virginia Military Institute voted in October to move the statue.

The decision came after accusations of racism on campus by Black cadets.

Contractors removed the bronze statue Monday, and will spend the next several days repairing the stone pedestal before it is moved from its current location, according to VMI. The cost of relocating the statue is $209,000. These funds will be paid out of VMI’s facility maintenance and operations account.

Once all the parts have arrived in New Market, VMI personnel will work to install the statue in the roundabout in front of the Virginia Museum of the Civil War. The estimated completion is summer/fall 2021. according to VMI.

VMI historian Col. Keith Gibson (Class of ’77) says this 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 Stonewall Jackson statue was given to VMI in 1912 by sculptor Sir Moses Ezekiel (Class of 1866), VMI’s first Jewish cadet and a veteran of the Battle of New Market.

Statement from VMI Interim Superintendent Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins:

“In accordance with the VMI Board of Visitors’ 29 October directive, we have begun the process of relocating the Stonewall Jackson statue from in front of barracks to the Virginia Museum of the Civil War and New Market Battlefield State Historical Park.

“It is an understatement to say the relocation of the statue has evoked strong opinions on both sides of the issue. The history of VMI over the past 181 years is well documented. Stonewall Jackson’s ties to Lexington and the Institute as an instructor are part of that history. As a general during the American Civil War who prosecuted many successful engagements in the Shenandoah Valley, his 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. 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.

“Virginia Military Institute has a long history of receiving young men and women from all walks of life, and instilling in them the values and skills necessary to be leaders of character who value service above self. While those values will endure, VMI is no stranger to change. Time and again over the past 181 years, the Institute has adapted and changed. Each time, we have become a better, stronger institution. Though change can sometimes be difficult, it is time for our beloved Institution to move forward, to strengthen our unique system of education and training, and grow the leaders of tomorrow. Now, more than ever, our commonwealth and our nation need the Virginia Military Institute.”

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