Public suggests renaming Fort Bragg after Union officer Edward Bragg
Posted September 14, 2021 2:46 p.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2021 5:04 p.m. EDT
Fort Bragg, N.C. — Fayetteville hosted a virtual town hall Tuesday asking for public comment about renaming Fort Bragg, home of the 82nd Airborne Division and the Army’s Special Operations Command.
The U.S. Congress voted to mandate that Fort Bragg and several other military installations named after Confederate figures or sympathizers be renamed by 2023.
"This is not Fort Bragg's idea to change their name. It's not Fayetteville's idea, it's not Cumberland County's idea or even North Carolina," said Col. Scott Pence, garrison commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps. "We were directed to change the name by the U.S. Congress. So it will happen."
Pence said that it's important that whatever name selected should represent the community.
Fort Bragg's archaeologist Linda Carnes-McNaughton said that there were several naming commissions in the area's past. She said names help track the history of a place, and "some names changed, some names get renamed."
The Congressional Naming Commission, established this year, is an eight-member panel a working to remove or rename areas that commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served with the Confederacy during the Civil War.
The military site was named after Gen. Braxton Bragg, a North Carolina slave owner who fought for the Confederate army during the Civil War to uphold slavery. Fort Bragg was established in 1919, decades after the Civil War.
In addition to renaming Fort Bragg, the Naming Commission will replace the names of 8 streets near Fort Bragg that memorialize the Confederacy, Carnes-McNaughton said.
"Physical landscape names become cultural landscape names, and we hold them dear for a long time," she said.
More than 100 people viewed the town hall online on Tuesday, and several spoke. Officials say it will cost $7 million in federal funds to rename the Fort Bragg military base.
"You want to waste millions changing the name of a military base. Why in the 21st century is this even considered?" one person asked.
Rodney Anderson, former Senior Commander at Fort Bragg, said that he commended officials for "reaching out to the community for their input."
"That was not always the case," he said. Anderson said the name should reflect U.S. Army history and highlight the legacy of America's soldiers.
"The suggested names can be a virtue or value or a conflict or a battle as long as the name is empowering and encouraging," he said.
Emily St. John Mosse, wife of a Fort Bragg service member, said that, while she understands the "cultural injury" that comes from honoring Confederate she said the money used to rename the base should instead be invested in the community.
Grilley Mitchell, a veteran who is the former president of the Cumberland County Veterans Council, has a solution for this concern. He suggests that the military base should be named after Edward Bragg, who was a Union officer in the war. Historians say Edward Bragg was Braxton Bragg's cousin, though the two never met in battle.
“That's the decision that we also believe that belongs to the men and women that have served this nation, as well as their family members, because they paid the price to have that choice to make that decision," Mitchell said, adding that the Cumberland County Veterans Council agrees with his proposal.
"I don't think that we will find a name that everyone is going to be happy with," Mitchell said.
The military bases the federal government plans to rename are:
- Camp Beauregard and Fort Polk in Louisiana
- Fort Benning and Fort Gordon in Georgia
- Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Lee and Fort Pickett in Virginia
- Fort Hood, Texas
- Fort Rucker, Alabama