A new debate is now raging in the aftermath of the deadly shooting at a historic black church in South Carolina, over whether Army bases should be named after Confederate soldiers.
The suspect in the deadly attack in Charleston, was shown holding Confederate flags in widely-seen photos, prompting many to take up the debate again, over whether Confederate flags should fly over state house grounds.
But now many are also questioning the names of 10 Army bases located in the Confederacy, stretching from Virginia to Texas. They still see these names and symbols, associated with the pro-slavery secessionist Confederacy, as hateful and offensive.
According to an article in Time, “The U.S. Army operates posts named for nine Confederate generals and a colonel, including the head of its army, the reputed Georgia chief of the Ku Klux Klan and the commander whose troops fired the first shots of the Civil War.”
Army officials say it was common for camps and forts to be named after local features or veterans with a regional connection. In the southern states they were “frequently named after celebrated Confederate soldiers,” the article says.
But many argue that some of these soldiers should not be celebrated.
Fort Gordon, in Georgia, for example honors Lieut. General John Brown Gordon, one of Lee’s most-trusted officers. Gordon is also known for being the head of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia, and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1872.
The Time article goes on to say, “What makes all this especially bizarre is that the Army has always been the service with the most African-American troops. More than one of every five soldiers is black, double the Marines’ enlisted share. Every day, thousands of them salute smartly, preparing to defend the nation on soil honoring their race’s oppressors.”
According to the Center for Military History, during the World War II era, almost all military installations designated as forts or camps were named after distinguished military individuals, including veterans of the Confederate Army.
In an Associated Press article, Brigadier General Malcolm Frost said, “Every Army installation is named for a soldier who holds a place in our military history. Accordingly, these historic names represent individuals, not causes or ideologies. It should be noted that the naming occurred in the spirit of reconciliation, not division.”
Frost, the Army’s top spokesman, was responding to questions about whether the military should consider changing the name of bases such as Fort Bragg, N.C., which is named after the man who led the Confederate Army of Tennessee, Gen. Braxton Bragg.
Army Colonel Steve Warren tells Time, there is no discussion underway about renaming the posts.