- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 17, 2022

President Eisenhower, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, five-star Army Gen. Omar Bradley and Alwyn Cashe, a soldier who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor last year for heroism in Iraq are among the nearly 100 possible new candidate names for nine Army installations that are being stripped of their current names honoring Confederate generals and officials.

The list was released Thursday by the congressionally mandated renaming panel which was created to provide recommendations to Congress and the Department of Defense. The commission is required to provide its final recommendations to the House and Senate Armed Services committees by October. 

Former President Donald Trump fiercely opposed the name change, but it was included in a major defense authorization bill in 2020 that Congress passed over Mr. Trump’s veto. It was the only successful override of a veto during Mr. Trump’s term.

Proponents say the name changes are vital at a time when many states and municipalities are removing Confederate memorials and other symbols that date back to the Jim Crow era. But Mr. Trump and others argued the move was an attempt to rewrite history and would erase names that have a deep military heritage and meaning for local communities.

The Army posts to be renamed are Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Rucker, Alabama; Fort Polk, Louisiana; Fort Benning and Fort Gordon, both in Georgia along with three Army bases in Virginia: Fort A.P. Hill; Fort Lee and Fort Pickett.

“It is important that the names we recommend for these installations appropriately reflect the courage, values and sacrifices of our diverse military men and women,” said retired Navy Adm. Michelle Howard, commission chairman.

The commissioners visited the installations last year for “listening sessions” with commanders and the local community to understand local sensitivities and gain feedback on their preferences. They will engage the same groups in the coming weeks before deliberating on the final name recommendations, officials said.

The list of names the commission is currently focusing on includes well-known historical figures such as WW II hero and later Hollywood actor Audie Murphy, General and later Secretary of State George C. Marshall, and Harriet Tubman, who rescued enslaved people as leader of the Underground Railroad and later served as a Union scout in the Civil War.

But the list also includes Army veterans whose contributions to the nation, while significant, were often overlooked because of the times they lived in, such as Benjamin O. Davis Sr., the first Black person to rise to the rank of brigadier general; Marcario Garcia, the first Mexican American immigrant to receive the Medal of Honor; and Dr. Mary Walker, the only woman to have ever received the Medal of Honor.

The commission received more than 34,000 submissions for renaming, which included 3,760 unique names during last year’s listening sessions and a public comment period on its website. 

“We also are considering the local and regional significance of names and their potential to inspire and motivate our service members,” Adm. Howard said.

Fort Belvoir, Virginia, also was reviewed by the commission. Although originally named after Union Army Gen. Andrew Humphreys, the post was later renamed for the Colonial-era plantation that once stood on its grounds. The commission said Fort Belvoir’s case did not meet the criteria set out in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act but that the panel will recommend a later review of the case by the Department of Defense.

The commission’s mandate also includes a review of other Defense Department assets, including Navy ships, buildings and military memorials.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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