Amid moves by the Marine Corps and Navy to ban displays of the Confederate flag at their facilities, word has leaked out that the Army is considering new names for 10 bases named after Confederate officers.
The Navy and Air Force name their bases after their geographic locations, a decision that seems to have precluded any naming controversies so far. However, both the Navy and Coast Guard have named ships after people, and those names have sometimes generated debate.
In 2019, Navy officials moved the USS John McCain out of President Donald Trump’s eyeline when he visited Japan. The ship was originally named after the Sen. John McCain’s father and grandfather, but the Navy decided to honor a third generation with the name after the senator’s death.
Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy announced this week that he’d be open to renaming the bases if local officials and Congress decide it is time to make a change. That statement brought a swift rebuke from the president.
“These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom,” he wrote on Twitter. “The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations. Our history as the Greatest Nation in the World will not be tampered with. Respect our Military!”
Even though Trump claimed oversight of this decision, there are reports that the authority to rename bases rests with the secretary of the Army alone.
Obviously, there doesn’t seem to be much objection to Naval Station Norfolk or Naval Air Station Pensacola. Would the entire military benefit from a neutral naming system that leaves out personalities or potentially problematic historical events?
Or should the Army, Navy and Coast Guard continue to honor individuals but remain open to renaming a base or a ship if attitudes change or more history comes to light at a later date?
And there’s always option number three: Stick with the status quo and ignore all calls for an examination of how we name military facilities and ships.
What’s your solution? Let us know in the comments!
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