Sea Change Needed for Army Bases [PHIL-OSOPHY]
The protests following the murder of George Floyd have been the catalyst for a lot of needed conversations. One of them came up June 10, when the Republican-held Senate Armed Services Committee voted to obligate the Pentagon, in the next three years, to rename military bases and assets currently named for Confederate generals.
A little history is needed here. Both Fort Benning and Fort Bragg were named long after the Civil War. They were both founded as the United States increased troop training for World War I. The year was 1918 and the Army was segregated. To acquire large tracts of land needed for a base and to help the federal government, the Army allowed the states to come up with naming rights. In one instance, the local chamber of commerce named Fort Bragg after Gen. Braxton Bragg because he was the only general from North Carolina who fought in the Civil War. Most historians agree that as a military leader during the war, Bragg was not the sharpest sword in the scabbard.
On the other hand, Brigadier General Henry L. Benning was a formidable military commander and fought hard to perpetuate slavery and the separation of races. He was a deadly force behind white supremacy, who issued lethal warnings about the endangerment of having free black men outnumbering white men and putting in jeopardy the purity of lily-white womanhood. Benning was much more than a segregationist fighting for the right to continue slavery.
Both of these generals fought against the flag of the United States.
To the supporters who want to maintain the names because they hold historic value worth preserving, I say place an asterisk next to the new names, spelling out the reasons behind the re-designation, with the figure of a soldier doing an about-face.
Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.