Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, another retired officer and former commander at Fort Benning, criticized Mr. Trump for his refusal to consider name changes. “Rather than move this nation further away from institutionalized racism, he believes we should cling to it and its heritage by keeping the names of racist traitors on the gates of our military bases,” Mr. Eaton said.
The call by Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, to remove the remaining Confederate statues from the Capitol will force lawmakers to consider their own home.
“While I believe it is imperative that we never forget our history lest we repeat it, I also believe that there is no room for celebrating the violent bigotry of the men of the Confederacy in the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol or in places of honor across the country,” Ms. Pelosi wrote in a letter to the top lawmakers on the Joint Committee on the Library, which oversees the statue collection.
Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, the top Democrat on the committee, immediately endorsed Ms. Pelosi’s proposal, saying in a statement that officials “should expediently remove these symbols of cruelty and bigotry from the halls of the Capitol.” Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, the top Republican on the panel, did not comment.
During her first tenure as speaker, from 2007 to 2011, Ms. Pelosi oversaw the relocation of Lee’s statue from a prominent position in National Statuary Hall to the Capitol’s crypt. Congress has allowed states to provide two statues for display in the Capitol since 1864, and in 2000, approved new legislation that would allow states to swap an old sculpture out.
But if Mr. Trump may not see Lee’s figure at the Capitol if the speaker’s plan is approved, he will find another likeness of the Confederate general on Saturday when he visits the United States Military Academy at West Point to deliver the commencement address.
Lee, a West Point graduate and later its superintendent, is honored throughout the academy. His name adorns a gate, a road and a barracks, not counting portraits of him hanging on the walls.
Emily Cochrane and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.