Removal of Confederate Names Could Affect Hundreds of Sites
WASHINGTON – Pressure to remove Confederate names from Pentagon properties, including legendary military posts, could potentially affect hundreds of items and facilities, the chairman of the Certified Naming Commission said on Friday. Congress.
Michelle Howard, a retired Navy admiral who heads the commission, told reporters her group began work in March, with an interim report to be presented to Congress in October and a final report a year later.
She said the eight-member group is still developing the name change criteria and will begin their site visits with a trip to the US Military Academy in West Point, New York. The academy is under review meticulous because it has a barracks named in honor of Robert E. Lee, commanding general of the rebel army of the Confederate States of America.
Howard said the commission is required by Congress to consider renaming “anything that commemorates the Confederate States of America or anyone who has served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America.” This only applies to Department of Defense properties, not state-owned military installations.
Congress acted last year, overturning the veto of former President Donald Trump’s defense bill, amid a public outcry over the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of of the Minneapolis Police Department. Calls have been made to remove Confederate symbols, including the names of military bases, considered racist relics.
The initial public interest was on Army bases such as Fort Bragg, North Carolina, named after Confederate General Braxton Bragg, and Fort Benning, Ga., Named after Brig. General Henry L. Benning, who served under Lee.
Howard said the congressional committee’s mandate is to look more broadly, and that he will consider naming streets for military bases, for example, as well as ships, airplanes and the Department of Defense buildings. The only federal military item explicitly exempted by law is headstones, she said.
“Once we get down to looking at buildings and street names, it could potentially number in the hundreds,” she said.
The Navy identified to rename the USNS Maury, an oceanographic study vessel which was named for Cmdr. Matthew Maury, who resigned from the United States Navy to join Confederation during the Civil War.
Howard said a key part of the commission’s job will be to consult with local city leaders to consider their views.