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VMI to keep Confederate statues, add historical context

The statue of Stonewall Jackson (Virginia Military Institute)

LEXINGTON, Va. (WSET) - Virginia Military Institute says the statues of Confederate statues will stay on campus.

Tuesday, the school released a statement saying the school has "produced leaders that fought in the Civil War" and all major wars in United States history.

The full statement reads:

VMI's mission is to produce educated, honorable cadets and graduates imbued with characteristics and traits long admired by our great Nation. We produce leaders of character who are prepared and ready to serve our communities, our states, and our Nation in times of peace and in times of war. That is our singular objective. As the oldest state supported military college in the nation and a national historic landmark, VMI has produced leaders that fought in the Civil War, Mexican-American War, Spanish-American War, World War I, defeated fascism in World War II, marched for civil rights in the ’60s, fought in Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf, and has seen its alumni as the best of leaders across the spectrum of industry, medicine, the law, politics, religion and business. Like the United States itself, who we were in the past only defines in part who we are today. Hate, bigotry and discrimination are wrong, do not represent the values of the Virginia Military Institute, and will always be addressed decisively. We will learn from the past and take the best from our predecessors in shaping our cadet citizen-soldiers for today and tomorrow. We achieve this objective through the Institute's challenging and demandingly unique education structured in a military environment that has served the Nation well for more than 178 years.
We will continue to learn from our history, yet be ultimately guided by our best judgment in how to achieve our mission. The safety of our cadets, faculty and staff, our Post and our community is always present in our mind. That is why, today, the VMI Board of Visitors endorses continuing to acknowledge all those who are part of the history of the Institute. We choose not to honor their weaknesses, but to recognize their strengths. We will continue to learn and not to repeat divisions. We strongly encourage all to move forward together in the defense and advancement of our Nation.

A statue of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson sits on the campus.

Jackson served the school as a professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy & Instructor of Artillery from August 1851 before the Civil War began.

Another statue is the New Market Monument, which honors the VMI cadets that fought in that battle. Six of the cadets who died are buried at the foot of the monument, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

A third statue honors Francis H. Smith, the school's first superintendent.

Smith served as a colonel in the Confederate army.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, VMI leaders are considering adding more historical context to the statues, like a plaque that will honor students who fought for the Union.

You can learn more about monuments on VMI's campus by clicking here.

This is a developing story, stay with ABC 13 for updates.

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