Panel makes its pick for Fort Gordon’s new name

The issue of renaming military bases is back in front of Congress, and that could impact Fort Gordon here in the CSRA.
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 3:30 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The military base renaming commission has chosen Fort Eisenhower as its recommendation for the new name of Fort Gordon.

The commission has been tasked with recommending new names for military installations that are named in honor of people with ties to the Confederacy.

The panel will forward its recommendations to Congress in by Oct. 1.

After the commission’s official recommendation, the U.S. Department of Defense will be charged with executing base renamings no later than Jan. 1, 2024.

Fort Gordon was named after John Gordon, a Confederate general. He went on to become a U.S. senator and Georgia governor.

As Fort Eisenhower, the post would be named in honor of Dwight D. Eisenhower, a World War II general who went on to become the 34th U.S. president.

Fort Gordon could become Fort Eisenhower
Fort Gordon could become Fort Eisenhower(WRDW)

The post’s hospital already bears the Eisenhower name.

Rep. Rick Allen, R-Augusta, said if Fort Gordon must be renamed, he’s happy with it becoming Fort Eisenhower.

“We made it clear to the Naming Commission that, should the base be renamed, our community hoped it would become Fort Eisenhower – in reference to the former president’s deep ties to the Augusta area. I am glad the Commission has taken this feedback into account in its recommendation,” Allen said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

He said from the moment the renaming initiative was announced, his team has worked side-by-side with members of the local community to ensure that, if the base had to be renamed, its new name would reflect both the history of this area as well as the significance of Fort Gordon’s mission.

Allen previously signed onto a letter to the commission urging it to consider the widespread community support for the name Fort Eisenhower when making its official recommendation.

The commission is making these other recommendations to Congress for nine Army posts currently named after Confederate officers:

  • Fort Benning, Ga. – rename as Fort Moore after Lt. Gen. Hal and Julia Moore.
  • Fort Bragg, N.C. – rename as Fort Liberty after the value of liberty.
  • Fort A.P. Hill, Via. – rename as Fort Walker after Dr. Mary Walker.
  • Fort Hood, Texas – rename as Fort Cavazos after Gen. Richard Cavazos.
  • Fort Lee, Va. – rename as Fort Gregg-Adams after Lt. Gen. Arthur Gregg and Lt. Col. Charity Adams.
  • Fort Pickett, Va. – rename as Fort Barfoot after Tech. Sgt. Van T. Barfoot.
  • Fort Polk, La. – rename as Fort Johnson after Sgt. William Henry Johnson.
  • Fort Rucker, Ala. – rename as Fort Novosel after Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael J. Novosel Sr.

While there are other installations with names linked to the Confederacy, the commission is empowered to make recommendations only for Department of Defense assets and not National Guard installations.

For years, U.S. military officials had defended the naming of bases after Confederate officers. As recently as 2015 the Army argued that the names did not honor the rebel cause but were a gesture of reconciliation with the South.

But in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, and the months of racial unrest that followed, Congress pushed for a comprehensive plan to rename the military posts and hundreds of other federal assets such as roads, buildings, memorials, signs and landmarks that honored rebel leaders.

The change in the military’s thinking was reflected in congressional testimony by Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a month after Floyd’s death. He said that the current base names could be reminders to Black soldiers that rebel officers fought for an institution that may have enslaved their ancestors.

About the name-changing process

The congressional commission’s mission is “providing naming, renaming, and removal recommendations to Congress for all Department of Defense items that commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America.”

It accepted more than 34,000 recommendations for renaming installations. From there, it identified 3,670 unique names potential use. Using criteria that will be detailed in the final report and aided by a team of historians, the commission reviewed the list and conducted deliberations to narrow the list to fewer than 100 total names.

The commission said its criteria focused on “ensuring the names considered for military installations appropriately reflected the courage, values, sacrifices and demographics of the men and women in our armed forces, with consideration given to the local or regional significance of names and their potential to inspire and motivate service members.”

The panel is made up of Adm. Michelle Howard, U.S. Navy, Retired (chair); Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule, U.S. Army, Retired, (vice chair); Chair Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, U.S. Army, Retired; Jerry Buchannan; Gen. Robert Neller, U.S. Marine Corps, Retired; Lawrence Romo; Dr. Kori Schake; and U.S. Rep. Austin Scott (Georgia).

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