After half a decade of debate, the US Department of Defense has announced that it will rename the nine US military bases that bear the names of Confederate officers.
The effort will cost American taxpayers $62.5 million and is likely to begin early next year.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin gave the official nod to put into action the final recommendations of the renaming commission, which included recommendations to change up to 1,000 installations and facilities, including the nine major Army bases originally named after Confederate leaders.
Forts named after Confederate generals
- Fort Benning, Georgia – established in 1909, the fort was named after Confederate Brigadier General Henry Lewis Benning, who was born on a plantation owned by his parents and took an active role in pushing for Georgia’s secession from the union
- Fort Gordon, Georgia – established in 1941, the fort was named after Confederate Major General John Brown Gordon, who after the fall of the Confederacy became a US Senator and Governor of Georgia
- Fort Bragg, North Carolina – established in 1918, the fort is named after Confederate General Braxton Bragg, whose many casualties are cited as very consequential for the eventual defeat of the Confederacy
- Fort Hood, Texas – Established in 1942, the fort was named after Confederate General John Bell Hood. It was originally built to test and train soldiers to use World War II tank destroyers
- Fort Rucker, Alabama – Established in 1942, the fort is named after Confederate General Edmund Rucker. The fort is primarily used for flight training for US Army Aviators
- Fort Polk, Louisiana – established in 1941, the fort was named after Confederate General Leonidas Polk, who was also the first Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana and subsequently the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Confederate States of America
- Fort AP Hill, Virginia – established in 1941, the fort was named after Confederate General Ambrose Powell Hill, a native Virginian who fought in the Mexican-American War and the Seminole Wars before joining the Confederacy
- Fort Pickett, Virginia – established in 1941, the fort was named after Confederate General George Pickett, who is best known for leading the unsuccessful battle offensive on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg
- Fort Lee, Virginia – established as Camp Lee in 1917, the fort was named after famed Confederate General Robert E. Lee and sits on the historic grounds where Captain John Smith established some of the first plantations along the James River in the 17th century
The nine Army bases that will soon bear new names are Fort Benning and Fort Gordon in Georgia; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Rucker, Alabama; Fort Polk, Louisiana; and Fort AP Hill, Fort Pickett, and Fort Lee in Virginia.
The naming commission released a list of potential new names for the bases back in May, names that included ‘Fort Eisenhower’ for Fort Gordon and ‘Fort Liberty’ for Fort Bragg, among others.
The renaming will likely begin in December or the new year after a congressionally mandated 90-day waiting period.
‘The installations and facilities that our department operates are more than vital national security assets. They are also powerful public symbols of our military and, of course, they are the places where our service members and their families work and live,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
“The names of these installations and facilities should inspire all those who call them home, fully reflect America’s history and values, and celebrate the best of the Republic that we are all sworn to protect,” he added.
The plan to rename the forts and other remnants of Confederate military warriors will “provide proud new names that are rooted in their communities and that honor American heroes whose bravery, courage and patriotism exemplify the very best of the American military,” he wrote.
A large handful of Army bases were named to honor Confederate generals as American troops trained to enter both world wars, specifically because of a policy that allowed regional commanders to oversee the naming process for the forts.
According to the final of three reports from the renaming commission, the process will cost the DoD $62.5 million and will consist of renaming more than 1,000 installations and facilities bearing the names of insurgent officers.
The committee initially offered a series of recommendations for names to be given to the bases as replacements.
They included World War II hero Audie Murphy, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former President Dwight Eisenhower, among others.
Murphy, a former US Army soldier, became the most decorated soldier of World War II. Powell was the first black person to serve as secretary of state, between 2001 and 2005, and died last year.
Eisenhower was a heroic World War II commander who later served as president between 1953 and 1961. He is credited with a series of public works programs—including the Interstate system—that helped transform America into the world’s only hypereconomy.
In the committee’s first report, released in early August, the body appeared to have narrowed the candidates for each fort to one name.
They are proposing to rename Fort Benning in Georgia after Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and Julia Moore – Korean War heroes who are buried at the fort.
Fort Bragg in North Carolina, they propose naming ‘in memory of the American value of Liberty’.
Fort Gordon in Georgia, they propose to rename General of the Army and 34th President of the United States Dwight Eisenhower.
Fort AP Hill in Virginia they propose to rename after Dr. Mary Edwards Walker –