WASHINGTON — The Army said it is reconsidering its earlier refusal to consider changing the names of 10 bases that now honor Confederate military officers.
“The secretary of the Army is open to a bipartisan discussion on the topic,” an Army spokesperson said Monday.
The announcement came after the Army Secretary, Ryan McCarthy, received a letter from Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) and Ted Lieu. (D-Calif), asking him to follow the lead of the Marine Corps and ban public displays and adoration of the Confederate flag as it flies, and on clothes, stickers, mugs and other objects.
Army officials have not commented on that proposal.
Marine Commander Gen. David Berger issued that order on Friday. It took effect immediately.“The Confederate battle flag has all too often been co-opted by violent extremists and racist groups whose divisive beliefs have no place in our Corps,” the Marines said Friday. “This presents a threat to our core values, unit cohesion, security, and good order and discipline. This must be addressed.”
“The U.S. Army should not have any bases named after people who are most famous for attempting to destroy that same U.S. Army in an armed rebellion against the U.S. Government,” Gallego told Talk Media News. “We do not have a Fort Erwin Rommel, a Fort Ho Chi Minh, or a Fort Charles Cornwallis, and for good reason – they are all responsible for the deaths of thousands of U.S. Soldiers.
“In addition to being traitors, Confederate leaders were avowed racists. That racism was not incidental to their treason, it was the reason for it. The U.S. Army should not continue to honor white supremacists who spilled blood to preserve slavery,” he said.
Gallego said he was “proud of Secretary McCarthy for being open to this change. He has the opportunity to use his authority and influence to lead the Army to the moral high ground my changing bases named after Confederates to names that more accurately reflect the honor and ideals of the U.S. Army and the people of the United States. He should do so at the earliest opportunity.”
By comparison, the Army told Task and Purpose earlier this year that it had no plans to change the name of any base, including those named after Confederate military officers, because they were named in the “spirit of reconciliation.”
The 10 Army bases named for rebel leaders are Fort Lee, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Polk, Fort Pickett, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Rucker, and Camp Beauregard.
Ft. Benning in Georgia is named after Brig. Gen. Henry Benning, who led troops at the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Antietam and the Battle of Gettysburg. He said rebelling was the only way to preserve slavery.
Ft. Bragg in North Carolina is named after Gen. Braxton Bragg, a North Carolina native and West Point graduate.
Ft. Hood in Texas is named after Gen. John Bell Hood, a Kentucky native and West Point graduate.
Ft. Lee in Virginia is named after Gen. Robert E. Lee, a Virginia native and West Point graduate.
Ft. Polk in Louisiana is named after Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk, a North Carolina native who also served as an Episcopal bishop in Louisiana. He was a second cousin of President James Polk.
Ft. Gordon in Georgia is named after Lt. Gen. John Brown Gordon was a Georgia native.
Ft. Pickett in Virginia is named after Maj. Gen. George Pickett, a Virginia native who graduated last in his class at West Point. He is best known for the disastrous Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg, which many say cost the South the battle and the war. His wife was a prominent advocate of the “Lost Cause” movement that romanticized the rebel army and worked to minimize slavery’s role in the conflict.
Ft. A.P Hill in Virginia is named after Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill, a Virginia native and West Point graduate.
Ft. Rucker in Alabama is named after Col. Edmund Rucker, a Tennessee native. He is the only rebel below the rank of a general with an Army base named after him.
Ft. Beauregard in Louisiana is named after Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, a Louisiana native and West Point graduate. He became superintendent at West Point in 1861 but resigned to join the Confederate Army. After the war, he preached reconciliation between the two sides and races.