Next week, the Army will formally remove my family’s name from Fort Rucker in Alabama, named after my cousin, Confederate Col. Edmund Rucker.
I support the name change. It’s long overdue.
Ruckers have been in the United States since the late 1690s, and rose to become part of the elite Southern society prior to the Civil War.
As kids, we’re told the story of Peter Rucker, a French Huguenot who was shipwrecked near the mouth of the James River in Virginia. He swam to shore. Peter and his children lived in Essex County, located near Virginia’s Rappahannok River. Their children moved west, living near Culpepper and Charlottesville. They founded Ruckersville, Virginia, and the family grew.
Some members moved to Georgia and founded another town, Ruckersville, Georgia. Others moved to Alabama, North Carolina, and Kentucky. They married into prominent Southern families like the Cobbs, Embrys, Tinsleys and Lamars.
When the war started, Ruckers fought for the Confederate States of America. Edmund Rucker, Fort Rucker’s namesake, served in General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Cavalry Corps. He lost an arm in the battle of Brentwood, near Nashville, Tennessee. Rucker lived in Birmingham after the war, operating large coal and iron mines. The Army named a base in his honor in 1942.
As a kid, I was always puzzled that the Department of Defense chose to name a base after my Confederate cousin. Rucker led men into battle against U.S. troops and men died because of his actions.
I joined the Coast Guard in the late 1990s. I swore an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. With hand held high, I recited the oath and pondered yet again, why is there an Army base named after a family member who committed treason?
The new name of the base will be Fort Novosel, named for Michael Novosel, a Medal of Honor recipient who fought in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Novosel’s connection to the Vietnam War is important to me because my father ret. Army Colonel T.W. Rucker and my uncle Captain D. Rucker also served in Vietnam. They all fought for the United States.
Federal assets should be named for those who fight and fought for the United States. My cousin Edmund Rucker did neither.
I welcome next week’s name change and I respectfully ask Defense Department leaders to stop naming assets after Confederates. Please name roads, streets, buildings, bases, and ships after men and women who served the United States with honor and distinction.
K. Denise Rucker Krepp is a former U.S. Coast Guard officer, former U.S. Maritime Administration Chief Counsel, and former locally elected Washington, DC, official.