Ever since the deadly protests at Charlottesville in August of 2017, many public Civil War monuments have been removed or reinterpreted nationwide. Because of these controversies, we rarely hear of new Civil War monuments being erected. This week, though, the United States Military Academy at West Point unveiled a new monument of Union war hero, General of the Armies, and President of the United States Ulysses Grant.
Sculpted by internationally-renowned artist Paula Slater, the monument depicts a larger-than-life Grant in his full U.S. Army general’s uniform, just prior to his presidency. To depict the general as accurately as possible, Slater worked closely with West Point curators and historian Sherman Fleek. Unlike many Romanticized statues of Civil War generals, Grant’s humility, resilience, and disheveled campaign look are front and center atop a four-and-a-half foot pedestal.
To West Pointers, Grant exemplified the meaning of service and sacrifice. Col. Ty Seidule of the Academy’s Department of History reflected on what this monument will mean “The Grant statue will inspire generations of cadets to become leaders of principle and integrity for the nation.”
This honor was long overdue and certainly shows us why monuments to our heroes still matter. Grant’s legacy at West Point – his alma mater – will forever be preserved with a beautiful monument like this one.