In a ceremony held Friday, Fort Bragg shed its Confederate namesake building and became Fort Liberty. Veterans said it was a small but important step in making the U.S. military more welcoming to current and future black service members.
The change was part of a broader Pentagon effort to rename military installations named after Confederate soldiers in the wake of the 2020 George Floyd protests.
“Black Lives Matter” protests that erupted across the country after Floyd’s murder by white police officers, combined with ongoing efforts to remove Confederate memorials, have put Army installations in the spotlight. A naming committee created by Congress visited the station and met with members of the surrounding community to solicit their input.
Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Liberty, told reporters after a ceremony officially announcing the name change, “We were given a mission, we accomplished that mission, and we did it.” improved,” he said.
While other bases have been renamed after black soldiers, U.S. presidents and pioneering women, only North Carolina military installations have not been renamed after them. Retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Ty Seidur said at a committee meeting last year that the new name was chosen because “freedom remains America’s greatest value.”
“Fayetteville signed one of the first treaties in 1775 declaring its liberty from England and its will to fight for liberty,” Donoghue said of the cities adjacent to the base. “There has always been freedom in this region.”
The total cost of renaming Fort Bragg, one of the world’s largest military installations by population, will total about $8 million, Colonel John Wilcox said Friday. Most of the front sign has changed but work is in progress.
“The name is changing, but the mission is the same,” base spokeswoman Cheryl Rivas said Friday.
Fort Polk, Louisiana, will be the next facility to change its name to Fort Johnson in honor of Sergeant Johnson on June 13. William Henry Johnson. Changes proposed by the naming committee must be implemented by 1 January.
North Carolina Station was originally named in 1918 for Confederate General Braxton Bragg from Warrenton, North Carolina. General Braxton Bragg was known for owning slaves and losing major battles in the Civil War that contributed to the collapse of the Confederacy.
Some military bases were named after Confederate soldiers during World War I and World War II, according to Boston University historian Nina Silver. It was part of a broader effort to mobilize the nation to fight as one, as part of a “demonstration of reconciliation” with the United States. .
“It was like a gesture of ‘yes, we recognize your patriotism.’ It’s kind of ridiculous to recognize the patriotism of people who rebelled against their country,” she said.
Although the original naming process involved members of the local community, black residents were excluded from the conversation. Bases are named after soldiers who grew up nearby, regardless of how efficiently they performed their duties. Mr. Bragg is widely recognized by historians as a pathetic leader who was disrespected by the military, Silver said.
For Isaiah James, senior policy officer for the Black Veterans Project, the base name change is a “long-awaited” change that he hopes will lead to more substantial improvements for black service members.
“The United States should leave no trace of slavery or separatism, and should not celebrate them,” he said. “A place where every time a black soldier enters a base they get the message that this Bragg Base is named after someone who wanted to leave you as a human property, we They should not be praised, exalted, or worshiped.”
At last week’s All-American Week, a celebration of the 82nd Airborne Division and one of the last major events held under the Fort Bragg name, several veterans had mixed feelings about the name change. expressed emotions.
Gregory Patterson, 64, a former member of the 82nd Airborne Division who served in the Army from 1977 to 1999, was among the many veterans at the celebration. Patterson said he understands why his name was changed, but in his mind the name is associated with a place rather than a person, specifically the home of the 82nd Airborne.
“Even if the named person wasn’t a good person, I would still call it Bragg,” he said.
Mark Melanson, 63, who worked there from 1983 to 1990, wore a T-shirt that read “Born in Benning, Raised in Bragg.” Fort Benning, Georgia was renamed Fort Moore last month.
Asked about the changes to Fort Liberty, Melanson said: The way we see it, it will always be Bragg. “
Bragg’s name evoked strong emotions and memories, Melanson said. “Home. The friendship we had. The brotherhood.”
Staff Sergeant James Fannin of the 82nd Airborne Division said the new name wouldn’t change anything for paratroopers willing to jump from the “perfect plane” behind enemy lines at any time.
“The base change has no effect. The only thing that matters is the patch on the left shoulder,” he said when asked about the change.
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https://www.newsmax.com/us/army-base-confederate-renaming/2023/06/02/id/1122152 Fort Bragg renames Confederate forces to Fort Liberty as part of rebranding U.S. Army base