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Cancel the Commission to Rename Army Bases

Our History Defines Us - Army Base Names are Part of Our History

“There is something special about Longstreet during the 82nd Airborne Division run! Sleep well America!” posted a Command Sergeant Major in that division on Linked In, May 27, 2021. Indeed there is something special in an entire Army division enjoying one of its traditions at the start of a well-deserved four-day Memorial Day Weekend, on a street named for one of America’s great soldiers – General James Longstreet.
The run exemplifies the many things about our Army and our history: how the two are inextricably linked, and our military history includes our Confederate history.
Sadly, there is a commission that was convened by Congress last year that is apparently tasked to erase the names of the ten Confederate generals at posts that have been the home to many proud units and generations of Army soldiers for over 100 years. Perhaps the people in this commissions and members of Congress, should have joined the 82nd on their run to experience for themselves that there truly is something special about running on this road named for General Longstreet, on a base named for General Bragg.
Most soldiers today have been to each and everyone one of these bases named for Confederates in a career, and experienced the esprit de corps a thousand times in unit PT and the connection to our past that is the Army and its bases. This is a very important part of being a soldier: knowing our military history, and taking pride in it. Whether they were in the Continental Army, wore blue or gray in the Civil War, were Doughboys, or were in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, or one of Middle East conflicts. They take pride in them, and it should not be changed, erased, and vilified for the nonsensical reasons of those who want to destroy this history.
Anti-Americanism is truly what George Orwell described in his dystopian novel 1984: “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered …History has stopped.” Yet, now this is happening in the United States, a nation that has until now, embodied President Lincoln’s message of “malice toward none,” as the start point of the national reconciliation after the end of the Civil War. We treated our former Confederate Americans as brothers again, as General Grant said that we should. Indeed we did for over 150 years, until the one weekend in 2020 stoked by self-proclaimed Marxists/Communists, who rioted in many cities, burned down towns, killed policeman, and beat White shop owners. Following their lead, certain law makers claimed affinity to this group by way of the death of George Floyd, and created a lie that Confederate history has something to do with this incident. A fake pretext for this type of purge of history that Orwell warned about in 1984.
Confederate history has nothing to do with George Floyd. Such thought is non-sequitur.
Let us consider Robert E. Lee. He was a man of high standards: integrity, devotion to his faith, devotion to service, honor, and for these he was considered a model Army officer by many because of his character. President Lincoln’s son Tad was so enamored with Lee, he kept a picture of him, and wanted a Confederate battle flag. His father, who also admired Lee, got Tad a flag, and the boy could be seen running the halls with it, and flying it out of a White House window. Winston Churchill later wrote: “Lee was one of the noblest Americans who ever lived, and one of greatest captains known to the annals of war.” In 1936 President Roosevelt said of Lee: “We recognize Robert E. Lee as one of our greatest American Christians and greatest American gentleman.” President Kennedy said of Lee: “he urged those who had followed him in bravery to reunite America in purpose and courage.” Heads of state, literature, movies, television programs, popular music, and every corner of American culture has admired Robert E. Lee.
The Marxist purgers, don’t care to know Lee, and only have malice aplenty, declaring anything Confederate “racist.” A word invented by Jewish Communist Leon Trotsky, which he and his fellow Communists used to bludgeon anyone in Russia who was against them and their 1917 Revolution that murdered millions.
Lee was not a racist, and Robert E. Lee was against slavery. The historical record proves it without a doubt. His attitudes about blacks were nearly identical to those of Abraham Lincoln, or Grant, or anyone else we perceive today as anti-slavery. Lincoln also did not like slavery, but he was also for deporting free blacks to South America. He supported colonization for emancipated slaves rather than blacks and whites living together. Lee never considered this, and was perhaps more willing to live with black people than even Lincoln was. In fact, Lee once stopped a lynching of a black man when he was President of a college, by students, who themselves apprehended a black man who shot one of their relatives. Lee rode to the site of where they were going to hang him, and ordered his students back to campus. Lee waited for the sheriff, and turned the black man over to him, who then received a fair trial and sentence of two years for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. If that does not prove Lee was a fair man, devoid of racism, then what does? Braxton Bragg, was a slave owner before and during the war, and after the war lived in near poverty with his wife, and about twenty of his former slaves. Together, they worked his property just to be able to eat. Once asked why does he do this? He said he was responsible for them, he did not believe they would survive if he sent them away. It seems he loved them. What Braxton Bragg did for former slaves is exemplary Christian forbearance. Not only did Lee and Bragg hold the responsibilities of army level command, the reason base names were selected, they proved caring of black people.
None of the ten Confederate Generals that Army posts are named for, said they fought to preserve slavery. A. P. Hill, like Lee, was against slavery, quite vocally so before the war. His letters prove it. Hood did not own slaves, and makes no mention of slavery as a reason for joining the Confederate Army. General Hood’s letters confirm during the secession crisis he was willing to join whichever side his state went. None of the other Confederate generals said they fought the war over slavery either. Some of them were slave owners, but then so was George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and many other great Americans. No one is calling for the erasure of them; --yet. The great historian and author of Battle Cry of Freedom, James McPherson said of his research, barely 3-4% of Southern soldier letters indicated that they were fighting for slavery. Anyone doing research in this area will find very many writings that a particular soldier fought to protect slavery. Those who stated reasons, if at all, said they fought for their states.
Tens of millions of Americans are descended from former Confederates, and they don’t deserve to be insulted by people who all of a sudden seek political gain by vilifying their ancestors. How can we recruit a military that reflects the proportion of the Americans who are from the South and had ancestors in the Confederacy? To do so, we must not attack these fellow Americans with animus and lies about their ancestors, but do the opposite. Embrace what Lincoln called for: malice toward none. Do what FDR and Kennedy did: treat their ancestors with respect and dignity, as an example of how we should treat all Americans.
No one in the Amry has ever noticed that the names of Army posts had anything to do with recruiting and retention. Blacks, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders, Whites, American Indians, etc., have served in the Army at Ft. A. P. Hill, as a name that means inclusion. Since these bases have been named for Generals Lee, Hood, Bragg, Benning, A.P. Hill, Polk, Beauregard, Gordon, Pickett, and Rucker, they have therefore all been part of that. Thousands of black soldiers served, were promoted, commanded units, were decorated, and raised families on these bases.
There is no connection to the Confederate Generals our bases are named for, and what happed to George Floyd, and these post names do not cause or represent any form of racism. Such claims are lies, but there is truth in the fact that the Confederacy stood for the notion that the states were - as Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence – sovereign and independent. This is a truth Communists cannot accept. They seek complete centralized control. The true reason they seek to destroy this history, is to erase the history that the state is the higher power, and not the federal government. They know the Confederacy reminds current generations of that history, and that part of us: that we have states with their own governments. We are in fact part Confederacy and part Union, and to be an American is to understand the right balance between the two. If we erase that history representing local/state governance and individual liberties, then we risk losing our way of life. As President Reagan said: “We are always only one generation away from losing our freedom.” He meant all it takes is for one generation to lose the connection to our past, and be led astray by bad actors. Not knowing who we were, will cause us to not know who we are. Saving Confederate history along with all the rest of our history is imperative. Army bases named for General John Bell Hood, and nine other Confederates, helps us to do that.