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West Point unveils statue of Class of 1843 graduate Ulysses S. Grant

The new statue of Ulysses S. Grant at the U.S. Military Academy.

MICHELLE EBERHART/U.S. ARMY

By MICHAEL RANDALL | The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. | Published: April 26, 2019

WEST POINT, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — Only two West Point graduates went on to earn the rank of general and be elected president of the United States.

Now there are statues of both men at their alma mater.

On Thursday afternoon, West Point officials, cadets, graduates and other guests gathered to unveil a statue of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who led the Union army to victory in the Civil War and was later the 18th president.

Grant's statue is on the perimeter of The Plain, where the corps of cadets holds daily parades. He stands directly across the field from the statue of Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was erected in 1983. Eisenhower made his military mark in World War II and went on to become the 34th president.

Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald, of the class of 1975, and his wife, Diane, who are philanthropists, provided the funds for the Grant statue. McDonald is a former Procter & Gamble chairman and CEO.

McDonald said they "jumped at it right away," when the opportunity arose to honor Grant.

"I think he was underappreciated for all he did in making the Reconstruction (after the war) beneficial for everyone, and for trying to eliminate the Ku Klux Klan," McDonald said.

Grant was a member of the West Point class of 1843.

Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, the superintendent of West Point, said Grant will serve as a good example to current and future cadets.

According to Williams, when Grant was asked by a reporter after a victorious battle if he had any message for the leaders back in Washington, he gave a response that sounded like an excerpt from an action movie script.

"If you happen to see the president, tell him there will be no turning back," Williams quoted Grant as saying to the reporter.

Williams said Grant was known for a nickname that came from a term he usually offered to defeated enemies, "Unconditional Surrender Grant."

The statue has been installed as the nation is marking the 150th anniversary of Grant's inauguration for the first of his two terms as president.

mrandall@th-record.com

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