Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

It’s high time to dump the Confederate names tarring the honor of our Army

By “Soldiers Diary” Best Defense guest columnist It’s 2014 and we still have Army bases named in honor of generals who fought for the Confederacy.  It’s ridiculous, absurd, and time that these bases be renamed. Jamie Malanowski last year wrote a fantastic op-ed for the New York Times titled “Misplaced Honor.”  He detailed the numerous ...

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By "Soldiers Diary"
Best Defense guest columnist

It's 2014 and we still have Army bases named in honor of generals who fought for the Confederacy.  It's ridiculous, absurd, and time that these bases be renamed.

Jamie Malanowski last year wrote a fantastic op-ed for the New York Times titled "Misplaced Honor."  He detailed the numerous Army bases, mostly in the South, that are named after generals who fought for the South and were responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.  These bases include Fort Lee, Fort Hood, and Fort Bragg, to name but a few.

By “Soldiers Diary”
Best Defense guest columnist

It’s 2014 and we still have Army bases named in honor of generals who fought for the Confederacy.  It’s ridiculous, absurd, and time that these bases be renamed.

Jamie Malanowski last year wrote a fantastic op-ed for the New York Times titled “Misplaced Honor.”  He detailed the numerous Army bases, mostly in the South, that are named after generals who fought for the South and were responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.  These bases include Fort Lee, Fort Hood, and Fort Bragg, to name but a few.

As we observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the U.S. Army should take a hard look at the names of Army installations across the United States and rename those installations.

It would be fitting to change Fort Bragg to Fort Gavin, the first commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and World War II hero.  Fort Hood could be renamed Fort Patton, Fort Rucker could be renamed Fort Marshall, and you could even rename Fort Lee, Fort Calrissian.  It sounds ridiculous at first, but not after taking into consideration the fact that Lando is not responsible for more American soldiers’ deaths than were Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan combined. Nor did he lead a force in order to preserve a slavery-based economy.

We can still honor the soldiers who fought for the South, and monuments on the battlefields like Gettysburg are still appropriate.  However, in 2014, having bases named after the leadership of the Confederacy is just a bit outdated.  I do not speak for African-American soldiers, but I wonder if anyone has ever asked them if they feel it is appropriate.

This is not all the Army and the other services should do to advance in to the 21st century.  Other forms of absurdity continue that the military should take a stand against.  A start would be to end support such as providing a color guard for professional football games that involve the team from Washington D.C.  Call a spade a spade, recognize that the term “Redskin” is a derogatory term, and end support for that football team until Dan “Chainsaw” Snyder also realizes it is 2014.

“Soldiers Diary” is an active-duty Army officer. This article represents his own views, which do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, or Dan Snyder .

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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