Panel recommends new names for military bases named for Confederates
The commission tasked with recommending new titles for nine Army bases named after Confederate generals on Tuesday put forward its suggestions, including renaming Fort Hood, Texas, after the first Latino four-star general.
The congressional naming commission “sought to find names that would be inspirational to the Soldiers and civilians who serve on our Army posts, and to the communities who support them,” the group’s chairwoman, retired Navy Adm. Michelle Howard, said in a statement.
Eight of the nine bases would be renamed for those with ties to the Army’s nearly 250-year history, while one — Fort Bragg, N.C. — would be changed to Fort Liberty.
“We realized that we had more heroes than we did bases to name,” Howard said. “And we were overwhelmed with the greatness of the American Soldier — from those who gave their entire adult lives to the Army, to those who sacrificed themselves in valorous acts. We were reminded that courage has no boundaries by man-made categories of race, color, gender, religion, or creed.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Tuesday said he is “pleased to see the Naming Commission’s progress” and thanked members “for their important, collaborative work with base commanders, local community leaders, Soldiers, and military families,” according to a statement.
The potential name changes, first reported by ABC News, come after legislation passed by Congress last year dictated the renaming of Army installations named for Confederate leaders by 2023.
The recommended names do not go into effect until approved by Congress and Austin.
The changes include renaming Fort Hood after Richard Cavazos; renaming Fort Gordon, Ga., after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Army general during World War II who later became the 34th U.S. president; and changing the name of Fort Benning, Ga., to honor Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and his wife, Julia Moore, a celebrated military family.
The commission also recommended changing Fort Pickett, Va, to honor Van Barfoot — a Medal of Honor recipient of Native American descent who fought in World War II — and altering Fort Rucker, Ala., to pay tribute to Michael Novosel, another Medal of Honor recipient who was a pilot during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Fort Lee, Va., would take its name from two individuals: Arthur Gregg, a former three-star general who served as logistics director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Charity Adams, the first Black woman to be an officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.
Fort A.P. Hill, Va., would be renamed after Mary Walker, the first female surgeon in Army history who received the Medal of Honor for her service during the Civil War.
Fort Polk, La., meanwhile would be renamed after William Henry Johnson, a Black soldier whose heroic actions in World War I were not honored with the Medal of Honor until 2015.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), applauded the suggestions, which he said represent “a significant milestone for the Commission and follows a year’s worth of visits, community engagement, and historical research.”
“This list is but a first step in addressing Confederate symbolism in the U.S. military, a process that is more than symbolic. This process has created a new opportunity to foster a more inclusive environment for our service members by remembering and acknowledging our country’s history while honoring the valor and sacrifice of our service members and their families,” Smith said in a statement.
In addition to recommending the military installation name changes, the naming commission is also reviewing more than 750 Defense Department items — including street, school and building names, symbols, displays, monuments or paraphernalia — to determine whether they commemorate the Confederacy.
Cost estimates for the proposed renaming or removing of items will be included in the commission’s final recommendations to Congress, which are due to the House and Senate Armed Services committees by Oct. 1.
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