The announcement that Fort Bragg may soon become Fort Liberty disappointed some who had hoped that a new name might reflect the base’s tradition of housing elite units — and the many battlefield heroes from them — like the 82nd Airborne and Army Special Forces. Army photo by K. Kassens
Eight army bases that are named after Confederate generals may soon be renamed for a diverse group of soldiers, while North Carolina’s Fort Bragg may become Fort Liberty.
The list released by the federal Naming Commission Monday of suggested name changes was:
The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act mandated the creation of the eight-person Naming Commission to lead efforts to remove Confederate names, monuments, or other symbols from Defense Department property, including the nine bases. The commission released an inventory in March of 750 specific instances of Confederate-related names attached to military property, mostly streets and other signs on the bases under review. Officials said all of the items in the inventory would be addressed in the commission’s final report, due in October.
After that, the Secretary of Defense will review the recommendations and decide on base names. Though the Secretary is believed to have the legal power to rename bases, it is likely that Congress — which can dictate policy in the military via its budgeting power — will have a say in the final decision for renaming.
Though the genesis of the naming commission was to remove Confederate names, many who observed the process had expected the names to be mostly that of non-white male Soldiers. But in the final recommendations just two of the base were named for Black soldiers, one for an Hispanic soldier and one for a soldier of Native American heritage. There are no Army bases currently named for a Black person or Native American, and, according to a commission member, just one military post is named for an Hispanic person, the Puerto Rican National Guards’s Camp Santiago, named for Medal of Honor recipient Hector Santiago-Colon.
Three of the recommendations would put the name of a woman on a base, though in two of those cases it would be a combined name that also honors a man.
The Naming Commission received more than 34,000 total submissions, which included 3,670 unique names. Commissioners announced Thursday, March 17, that they had narrowed that list down to 87 names.
“Liberty” was not among those names.
Among the nine changes, Camp Liberty replacing Fort Bragg seems to be getting the most significant reaction on social media.
“Money well spent,” said one commenter on a Facebook post about the changes. “The confederacy is a part of our history, a dark part. A museum is where it belongs not on the name of one of our countries biggest fort. Good riddance to the name.”
But another echoed many veterans, saying: “It will and forever be Fort Bragg.”
Matt White is a former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism.
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