The services are about to get underway on a plan to rename nine Army posts, two Navy ships and remove or modify a host of monuments and tributes to the Confederacy, per recommendations from an independent commission approved Thursday by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Austin has convened a working group that will oversee the removal and replacing of tributes to the Confederacy and Confederate military starting in December, after a mandatory 90-day waiting period, he wrote in a memo.
“I thank the Commission for its tremendous work and dedication, its determination to respond to the directives of our elected representatives in Congress, and its sensitivity to the concerns and emotions raised by this important discussion,” he wrote. “The Commission’s thorough and historically informed work has put the Department on a path to meet Congressional intent — and to remove from U.S. military facilities all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederacy.”
Among the forthcoming changes are:
- The renaming of Forts Lee, Pickett and A.P. Hill in Virginia; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Forts Gordon and Benning in Georgia; Fort Rucker, Alabama; Fort Polk, Louisiana; and Fort Hood, Texas.
- The renaming of the cruiser Chancellorsville and the oceanographic survey ship Maury, at the discretion of the Navy secretary.
- Renaming of buildings and street names, as well as removal of artwork, monuments and other tributes at the U.S. Military Academy and U.S. Naval Academy.
The commission has drawn the ire of many who believe that the rebranding paints over U.S. history and undoes the reconciliation with the South that many of the original names intended.
Former President Donald Trump was a vocal critic of the effort, though Congress overruled his veto of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, with an overwhelming majority, to put the commission into law.
“The Commissioners do not make these recommendations with any intention of ‘erasing history,’ “ commissioners wrote in the second of three recommendation reports. “The facts of the past remain and the Commissioners are confident the history of the Civil War will continue to be taught at all Service academies with all the quality and complex detail our national past deserves.”
DoD has until Jan. 1, 2024, to complete all renaming and removals.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.