There have been mounting efforts in recent years to erase statues and monuments featuring Confederate soldiers, and now the U.S. Army is following suit.
According to recent reports, the branch’s Naming Commission is currently in the process of coming up with new names for bases that are named after such Civil War-era figures.
“I wonder what took so long,” said retired Lt. Gen. Tom Bostick, who serves on the committee. “What was galling is that we would still in this day and age have names of bases that represented traitors who fought against their country and for the purpose of slavery.”
Among the locations set to be “rebranded,” to use the military’s parlance, is Fort Pickett near Blackstone, Virginia. It was named after Gen. George Pickett who led Confederate troops in the Battle of Gettysburg.
While Bostick is among the many prominent military and political leaders who believe it is appropriate to rename such bases, many Americans say keeping the existing names helps preserve American history — for better or worse.
Former Blackstone Mayor Billie Coleburn explained: “Here in rural southern Virginia, change comes very slowly, and we don’t always embrace change. There are many people I talk to — many, many of them are dear friends of mine — that are strongly opposed to it being renamed.”
Coleburn, who is currently the editor of the community’s newspaper, said he suspects “the majority of folks around here would tell you in a heartbeat, keep it Pickett.”
The base’s new name will be “Fort Barfoot,” making it the first such installation bearing the name of a Native American. Col. Van Barfoot commanded a unit during World War II and received the Medal of Honor.
#ThrowbackThursday to March 24 when the @VaNationalGuard's Fort Pickett was redesignated as Fort Barfoot in honor of #MedalOfHonor recipient Col. Van T. Barfoot's life of service. pic.twitter.com/7kCF9JlIY8
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) April 13, 2023
Danny Clary, the fire station chief at what is now known as Fort Barfoot, noted that the Pickett name is ubiquitous in the community.
He described the decision to change the name as “sad,” adding: “I understand why they’re doing it, but it’s been here a long time and it’s going to take a lot of people a while to adjust.”
A total of nine Army bases are in the process of being rebranded.