Naming Commission recommends renaming Fort Bragg as Fort Liberty
On Tuesday, the Naming Commission revealed its recommendations for the new names of nine installations that currently have the monikers of Confederate military figures.
The panel unveiled the recommendation for Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to be renamed Fort Liberty. It was the only installation not given the name of a person.
"Perhaps no value has proved more essential to the United States of America and the history of its military than Liberty. Our Army was founded to achieve the ideal of liberty," the panel stated as a reason for the chosen name.
What was initially more than 34,000 submissions for the panel to consider got whittled down to 3,670 to a final list of 87 potential names for the nine installations.
"We heard from hundreds of stakeholders at these installations," commission Vice Chair Retired Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule said during the roundtable meeting Tuesday.
However, "Liberty" was not one of the final 87. So how did that name get the green light from the committee?
Seidule emphasized that local sensibilities played a huge role in the renaming of each installation.
"There were so many heroes and so few bases."
Lawrence Romo, a member of the panel, said that each chosen name was the top choices of the communities.
"Locals who participated felt strongly about 'Liberty' as a name," Romo said.
He also said that such names as Gen. Colin Powell and Sen. Daniel Inouye, of Hawaii, were considered. Powell was a top commander during Operation Desert Storm in the 1990s and was U.S. Secretary of State during President George W. Bush's first administration from 2001-05. Inouye was a Medal of Honor recipient in World War II who lost his arm in a battle.
Racial, gender diversity among recommendations
The recommendations are historic because it will be the first time persons of color and women will have their names used. In addition, two installations will honor two couples.
Fort Benning, Georgia, would be renamed Fort Moore after Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and Julia Moore. Fort Lee, Virginia, would be renamed Fort Gregg Adams in commemoration of Lt. Gen. Arthur J. Gregg and Lt. Col. Charity Adams, who were African Americans.
Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, would be renamed after Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, who volunteered as a surgeon during the Civil War.
Fort Johnson would replace Fort Polk, Louisiana, named after Sgt. William Henry Johnson, a heroic African American soldier in World War I who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2015.
Ford Hood, Texas, would be renamed after Gen. Richard E. Cavazos, a heavily-decorated Latino member of the Army during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Fort Pickett in Virginia would be renamed in commemoration of Tech. Sgt. Van T. Barfoot, a Medal of Honor recipient during World War II, and Fort Rucker, Alabama, would be named for Medal of Honor awarded Army aviator Michael J. Novosel Sr.
"We were reminded that courage has no boundaries by man-made categories of race, color, gender, religion, or creed. From privates to generals, we found hundreds of military members who exemplified the core values of the Army," stated commission Chair Reitred Admiral Michelle J. Howard.
One of the 87 names considered that stood out was Harriet Tubman, a former slave who helped others escape the South through the Underground Railroad network.
"There were so many heroes and so few bases," Seidule said about why Tubman's name didn't make the final cut.
Commanders of these posts were asked by the commission to assemble diverse groups to give input into the process.
Jerry Buchannan, a member of the committee said that each community the panel spoke with "felt like they had a part in the process."
The media was not allowed at these meetings. Seidule said the panel felt that the media's presence wouldn't have allowed community members to give their unvarnished opinions.
The Naming Commission came about because of the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, which mandated its formation.
The commission – comprised of eight volunteers selected by the Secretary of Defense and Congress – must submit its final report with the recommendations to Congress by Oct. 1.
In addition, the commission is reviewing any “base, installation, street, building, facility, aircraft, ship, plane, weapon, equipment or any other property owned or controlled by the Department of Defense.”
Fort Bragg came into existence as Camp Bragg in 1918 after Army Chief of Field Artillery Gen. William J. Snow found an area that had "suitable terrain, adequate water, rail facilities, and a climate for year-round training," according to the U.S. Army website. In 1922, it became Fort Bragg.
The installation was named after native North Carolinian Gen. Braxton Bragg for for his actions during the Mexican-American War. Braxton would later join the Confederate Army that fought against the United States in the Civil War.