Posted on March 24, 2023

Army Base to Be Renamed for Native American War Hero, Replacing Confederate

Chris Cameron, New York Times, March 24, 2023

{snip} More than 80 years ago, an Army base in Blackstone, Va., was named for George E. Pickett, the defeated Confederate general who led the disastrous “Pickett’s charge” at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Now the base is the first of nine named for a Confederate set to be redesignated by the end of this year. On Friday, Fort Pickett will become Fort Barfoot, in honor of Col. Van Barfoot, a World War II hero and a Medal of Honor recipient.

The ceremony will be the culmination of a yearslong effort to purge the symbols of the Confederacy from the military. The nine Army bases were originally named for Confederates during the Jim Crow era as part of a national movement to glorify the Confederacy and advance the Lost Cause myth that the Civil War was fought over “states’ rights” and not slavery.

The issue had ignited a political flashpoint between President Donald J. Trump and Congress. Amid a wave of demonstrations for racial justice in the summer of 2020, after the murder of George Floyd, Mr. Trump refused to allow the bases to be renamed, going so far as to veto the annual defense authorization bill that included the renaming provision. Congress ultimately forced the measure through, overriding the veto.

A commission established by Congress then recommended new names for the bases, selecting a diverse array of American warriors, including women, Black and Hispanic soldiers and Colonel Barfoot, a Choctaw who served 34 years in the Army. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III ordered the changes to be carried out by the end of 2023. {snip}