In 2021, Congress mandated that the Department of Defense remove any Confederate names from all of its bases and other properties. The Pentagon was happy to comply. It was indeed incongruous to have the names of American traitors on some of our most important military bases. But really, even a dining hall named after a Confederate “hero” was an insult to those who died to preserve our union.
A majority of Republicans voted for the renaming at the time, but that hasn’t stopped today’s Freedom Caucus-ruled House from attempting to turn back the clock. Like their hero Donald Trump, they just can’t quit American traitors.
The base renaming wasn’t controversial. The House passed it in 2020 by a 335-78 vote. The Senate did so in an 84-13 vote. Then-President Trump vetoed the legislation, saying, “These locations have taken on significance to the American story and those who have helped write it that far transcends their namesakes.” But his real problem with the legislation was that he claimed it was a “politically motivated attempt … to wash away history and to dishonor the immense progress our country has fought for in realizing our founding principles.”
Always happy to stoke culture war issues, Trump happily fought on behalf of traitors who caused so much misery and death in our country. The National Park Service lists 642,427 Union casualties, including 110,100 killed in combat, 224,580 knocked out by disease, and 275,174 wounded. It seems weird to defend those traitors until you realize that embracing Confederate flags and defending slavery are now a feature, not a bug, of the modern conservative movement.
Regardless, Congress overrode Trump’s vote easily: 322-87 in the House, and 81-13 in the Senate. In the House, 109 of the votes to override came from Republicans, an easy majority of their caucus, because, again, who wants to defend Confederate traitors?
There was a lot of renaming to do, and not just on military bases. For example, the United States Military Academy at West Point had a gate, dormitory, and road named after Confederate traitors. Arlington National Cemetery had streets named Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. There were Navy ships named after victorious Confederate battles (e.g. Chancellorsville, Antietam). At Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington, a building was named after Confederate President Jefferson Davis, and a street named after Robert E. Lee. So weirdly, it wasn’t just Southern military bases.
The naming commission used this opportunity to honor real American patriots.
Fort Benning, named after a brigadier general in the Confederate Army, was renamed Fort Moore. The name honors Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and his wife Julia Compton Moore.
Julia is actually quite remarkable. Prior to the Vietnam war, the Pentagon had no real way to notify next of kin of battlefield deaths. They’d literally send telegrams via taxi drivers to let families know. Julia had enough the day a taxi driver accidentally pulled up to her house.
I can't really add any more to the horror those women suffered being told in such a cruel way that isn't in the book. I will never forget that tense moment when the yellow cab stopped at my door. I saw the driver get out, come up the walk. I was alone so hid behind the drapes and prayed he would go away but he kept coming. When he rang the bell I decided not to answer, that way everything would be alright. I finally said to myself come on Julie, you have to face up to what's to come so answer the door. He only wanted help in locating a house number. I literally sagged against the door jamb, white as a sheet I was so relieved. Told him to never do that to anyone again. He was so apologetic. Said all the cab drivers had really hated that duty.
Afterward, she would accompany the taxi drivers and personally deliver those death notices to anyone near her, grieving with the widows and parents. Her example and complaints (assisted by her high-ranking husband) spurred the Pentagon to create the current notification system, which includes a uniformed officer and a chaplain.
Isn’t that a beautiful story? Beats the shit out of the Confederate traitor formerly honored by the base name. And that story is repeated time and time again
Fort Gordon is now Fort Eisenhower, named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, the World War II Supreme Allied Commander and president.
Fort A.P. Hill will be renamed in August after Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, an abolitionist who is also the only woman to have ever earned the Medal of Honor—our nation’s highest military honor.
Fort Hood is now Fort Cavazos, named after Gen. Richard Cavazos, the nation’s first Latino four-star general.
Fort Pickett is now Fort Barfoot, named after Colonel Van T. Barfoot, an American Indian recipient of the Medal of Honor.
Fort Polk is now Fort Johnson, named after Sgt. William Henry Johnson, a World War I hero in one of the first Black units of that war in the U.S. Army—the Harlem-based 369th Infantry Regiment. Thanks to racism, he was denied a well-earned Medal of Honor until it was awarded posthumously in 2022, long after his death in 1929.
All these base renamings (and there are more than the ones listed above) honor true American heroes. Yet the Freedom Caucus-MAGA Republicans can’t let go of their Confederate traitor heroes.
Per Jamie Dupree’s Substack:
- NAMES. For example, Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) submitted an amendment to the VA/Military Construction bill about work at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Except Fort Bragg is now Fort Liberty. That name change happened on June 1 - but you have GOP members of Congress not acknowledging that change.
NDAA. It's not just Wittman. A major defense policy bill recently approved by the House authorized eight specific projects for 'Fort Bragg,' including a child care center and a barracks. (Serious question - if Congress approves money for something that does not exist, what happens??)
SPENDING. It's the same story in the VA/Military Construction bill. There are multiple references to projects at Fort Bragg and Fort Hood - even though those names have already been phased out. The GOP bill does not use the current names of Fort Liberty and Fort Cavazos.
BRAGG. Fort Bragg was named after Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg - once considered one of the best southern commanders early in the Civil War - but whose record did not prove it. He was trounced by Grant in Tennessee, setting the stage for Sherman's march on Atlanta.
There is absolutely no reason not to use the new names. Wittman was in Congress when they voted for the base renaming. He actually voted for it! But perhaps that was before the commission returned with names of real American heroes that weren’t all white, male, and full of treason.
Meanwhile, both former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis think they can win Republican primary support by returning to the traitor names. "We will end the political correctness in the hallways of the Pentagon, and North Carolina will once again be home to Fort Bragg," Pence said last month at a North Carolina Republican event in Greensboro. At the same event, DeSantis said, “It's an iconic name and iconic base, and we're not gonna let political correctness run amok in North Carolina.”
It is politically correct to name American military installations and facilities after real American heroes, not traitorous turncoats who took up arms against our country to defend slavery.
It says something about Republicans that they can’t let go of that racist legacy.