Fort Bragg could be renamed to Fort Liberty in push to remove Confederate names from Army bases

FORT BRAG, NC – An independent committee on Tuesday proposed new names for nine Army posts honoring Confederate officers, including the relocation of Fort Bragg in North Carolina to Fort Liberty.

The recommendations are the latest step in a broader military effort by the Biden government to tackle racial injustice, most recently in the wake of George Floyd’s police assassination in Minneapolis in May 2020.

Fort Bragg, North Carolina is named after General Braxton Bragg, a senior Confederate Army general. It would be renamed Fort Liberty, the only one of the bases to be named after an idea, with eight others being renamed mostly by people with ties to Army history.

SEE ALSO: The story behind the name of Fort Bragg as the Pentagon examines the renaming of the base

At VFW Post 6018 in Fayetteville, veterans shared their reactions to the name change.

“I can see the importance of people wanting to move on and I would fully support a name change to something other than Braxton Bragg,” said Jack Pines, who spent most of his career at Fort Bragg.

Bragg was originally from Warrenton and served as an artillery commander for the U.S. Army before the Civil War.

“I never found (the name) weird because of its location. It’s here in North Carolina. You can go up 95, how many miles up to 95, you can see the (Confederate) flag,” Pines said.

Benjimen Washington, who also served in the military, added: “People realized this 50 years ago, but they never wanted to talk about it. Except to keep what they had.”

Last year, Congress passed legislation to rename all US military installations after Confederate leaders by 2023.

“There is always time for change, and we will leave it that way. Because what happened in the past happened, but now we have the opportunity to change it,” Washington said.

Others took the name Eleftheria.

“There is a reason why freedom is written in the Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution, in our currency and in our national symbols, statues and monuments,” said Ty Seidule, a retired U.S. Army brigadier who serves on the Nomenclature Commission. . “Throughout our history, freedom remains the greatest value. Since the nation created a permanent army to provide common defense, the military’s greatest battles have been for freedom. In the Revolutionary War, United States soldiers fought to consolidate freedom for our nation In the Civil War, they fought to achieve freedom for all Americans, and in World War II, they fought to extend freedom to much of the world.

“This post is the home of the Air Force Special Forces and the Army,” he added. “The 82nd Airborne Song, which I sang so proudly while I was there, has a line that says ‘We are Pan-Americans’ and we are proud to be. Because we are the soldiers of freedom.” “Freedom also anchors the slogan of the Special Forces.”

Seidule said the Nomination Committee received more than 34,000 recommendations and dealt directly with the communities surrounding each of the nine sites.

Off-camera, two veterans disagreed with the push to change the name, which has been in place since 1918, with one pointing to the financial cost of doing so.

“Part of our responsibility in Congress is to give a full account of the cost. We do not have it ready yet, but we will do it in the final report, which is expected in Congress on October 1,” said Seidule, who explained. that he would go to the Minister of Defense, who has the power to formally direct the renaming.

The list recommends that the bases be named for the first time by women and black soldiers.

Fort Polk, Louisiana, would be renamed Fort Johnson by Sgt. William Henry Johnson, Black Medal of Honor who served in the military in World War I.

Fort AP Hill in Virginia will be renamed Fort Walker by Mary Edwards Walker, a physician who treated soldiers in the Civil War and later received the Medal of Honor.

The other bases to be renamed are Fort Hood in Texas, Fort Rucker in Alabama, Fort Benning and Fort Gordon in Georgia and Fort Lee and Fort Pickett in Virginia.

The commission recommended renaming Fort Hood, Texas, to Richard E. Kavazos, the first Latino to reach the rank of four-star general in the Army.

Fort Gordon, Georgia, will be renamed after General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Army general who led all of Europe’s allied forces during World War II and later became president.

Virginia Fort Fort will be named after two people: Arthur Gregg, a former three-star general in charge of the logistics – the only living person to whom a base will be named – and Charity Adams, the first An African-American woman who is an officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.
Virginia Fort Pickett will be named after Van Barfoot, who received the Medal of Honor for his heroism during World War II and is of Native American descent.

Fort Benning, Georgia, will be renamed after Lt. Gen. Moore, a pioneer in the Air Force Cavalry whose Vietnam-era history is mentioned in the book and movie, “We Were Soldiers.”

Fort Rucker, Alabama, will be named after Michael Novosel, recipient of the Medal of Honor he flew with fighter jets in World War II and the wars in Korea and Vietnam.

For years, U.S. military officials defended the naming of the bases with Confederate officers. It was not until 2015 that the Army claimed that the names did not honor the guerrilla case, but were a gesture of reconciliation with the South.

But in the aftermath of Floyd’s assassination and the months of tribal unrest that followed, Congress pushed for a comprehensive plan to rename military posts and hundreds of other federal assets, including roads, buildings, monuments, plaques and landmarks honoring rivals.

The shift in military thinking was reflected in the testimony of Congressman Army General Mark Milley, the Army Chief of Staff, a month after Floyd’s death. He said the names of the bases could be a reminder to black soldiers that rebel officers fought for an institution that may have enslaved their ancestors.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin – the nation’s first black Pentagon chief – has spoken bluntly about his personal touches on racism. During the Senate confirmation hearing, he said he was serving as a lieutenant colonel on the 82nd Fort Bragg Air Base when three white soldiers, described as self-proclaimed skinheads, were arrested for killing a black couple on the street.

The investigators concluded that the two had been targeted because of their race and, as he said, 22 soldiers were linked to skinheads and other similar groups or were found to have extremist views.

The current commander of the Air Force, General Charles K. Brown, posted a moving video last June in which he discusses the difficulties he faced as a young Black pilot. Brown, the first commander of the Black Air Force, says he had to work very hard to prove to white superiors “that their expectations and perceptions of African-Americans were invalid.”

The Naming Committee, set up in 2020, met for the first time in March 2021 and began receiving name recommendations from the public in September. In all, the commission received more than 34,000 possible names, which it said included some 3,670 unique ones that could potentially be used. This list was later reduced to about 100 names before the final nine were selected to be nominated to Congress.

The committee then said that its mandate was to select names that “adequately reflect the courage, values, sacrifices and demographics of men and women in our armed forces, taking into account the local or regional significance of the names and their potential to inspire and motivate service members. “

The committee is also considering new names for two Navy ships: the USS Chancellorsville and the USNS Maury.

A final report is expected to Congress by October 1 and will include the cost of removing and changing the names. According to the law, the Minister of Defense is expected to implement the plan of the committee no later than January 1, 2024.

ABC11’s Michael Perchick and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 ABC News Internet Ventures.

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Fort Bragg could be renamed to Fort Liberty in push to remove Confederate names from Army bases Source link Fort Bragg could be renamed to Fort Liberty in push to remove Confederate names from Army bases

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