Black Veterans call on Secretary of Defense to reject recommendations from Base Naming Commission… 

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By: Charles Blatcher, III

      Chairman, National Coalition of Black Veteran Organizations. 

Date: May 26, 2022 – Immediate Release

Oakland, California…Seldom do things that start wrong end right. The Commission to rename the Army Bases currently named to honor Confederate Generals is no exception to the rule. The process and recommendations used in the selection are insulting to the legacy of Black Military History. Case in point, Fort Liberty. Is it coincidental that Liberty University, formed by Jerry Falwell, a person of limited racial tolerance is right down the road? If you are not familiar with the University, it has had its moments in the national news: School policy against interracial dating; ordering students back to campus in defiance of public health concerns; and, the latest was an unflattering photograph of the University President not exactly dressed for the camera. The University located in Lynchburg, West Virginia will be honored by sharing its name with Fort Liberty two hundred miles down the road in North Carolina.   

Let us be clear this is a veiled attempt to continue honoring the Confederacy without attaching the names of the traitors. Liberty and State’s Rights are the claims that the South used to justify succession from the United States prompting the Civil War. A proposed Fort Liberty acknowledges and recognizes their claim by name association with Liberty University. In media reports the name Liberty was not among the thirty-four thousand submissions. The Commission has not come forth to identify the source for the name. 

According to media, the Army claims the choices are reflective of its standards. The claim is false. Foremost, the United States Army would never approve a Navy Admiral chairing a Commission to rename Army Bases. The Army may be culprit in the end however, this is a political mess. The following is language from the Army’s Regulations proving they were not on-board with the plan.  

[….Army Regulation 15-190 specified memorialization criteria, including the criterion that only deceased persons will be memorialized. It also provided five categories of individuals to be memorialized: a national hero of absolute preeminence by virtue of high position, an individual who held a position of high and extensive responsibility (Army and above) and whose death was a result of battle wounds, an individual who held a position of high and extensive responsibility and whose death was not a result of battle wounds, an individual who performed an act of heroism or who held a position of high responsibility and whose death was a result of battle wounds, and an individual who performed an act of heroism or who held a position of high responsibility and whose death was not a result of battle wounds….] 

The Congressional Commission waived the death qualification thus inflating the candidate pool.  They received thirty-four thousand submissions resulting in thirty-three thousand nine hundred and thirteen eliminations in the first round of cuts. They publicized the tremendous rate of response as a positive thing. It was really the result of not having criteria set for the outreach.  Simultaneous to requesting names, the Commission issued a  disclaimer stating they held the right to disregard all submissions. A right they exercised by including Fort Liberty and possibility others to their list of recommendations.  Had they applied Army Regulation they would have maintained better control over the quality and quantity of the submissions. 

There are questions regarding the selection process. A process that held no preference for history, and less in recognizing historical Black pioneers and their achievements in the United States Army. It is insulting to read that the tradition of naming Military Bases after Generals will not apply in this renaming process. There are Black/Minorities and women Generals who fit the Army criteria to be honored under the existing Military Regulations.  There is no objection to naming bases after Generals. The objection is naming bases to honor Generals who fought to overthrow the United States Government and using the concept such as “Liberty” to justify treason.  

The Army claims the renaming is an opportunity to diversify the ethnicities and genders of those honored. What does a Fort Liberty have to do with diversity? The media reports that Lieutenant General Arthur Gregg and Lt. Colonel Charity Adams Earley are to co-share the renaming honor of Fort Lee. Why? Is to make available a base for the forementioned Fort Liberty? 

The Commission’s call for the public’s participation appears to have been a ruse. We are calling on Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to reject the Commission’s recommendations. We invite the public to join us in demanding a review of the process and procedure. Contact the Office of Secretary of Defense to register your disapproval of the recommendations.  The Office may  be reach at 1-703-545-6700 or send your comments to the Commission at the following email address: pao@thenamingcommission.gov

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